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FROODLE

“The neighborhood was never the same,” the narrator reports, and neither will be the charmed listeners and readers of this...

When Little Brown Bird decides to sing something silly, most birds in the neighborhood follow her lead, but crows can’t be silly, can they?

The creator of A Penguin Story (2009) returns with another imaginative solution to monotony and predictability in the natural world. “All year long,” the narration begins, “…the birds in the neighborhood went....” The words “caw,” “coo,” “chip” and “peep” repeat in speech bubbles, varied only in the order of their appearance. Then, one day, Little Brown Bird tries something new. “Froodle sproodle!” extends across a lengthy spread, its font emphasizing the shocking surprise. On the next spread, matched in magnitude, an unamused crow stares down at the miscreant, but Little Brown Bird can’t resist. Soon, Cardinal and Dove are experimenting, too. As the silliness spreads, the story actually turns sideways for a moment, forcing readers to physically rotate the book 90 degrees. Repeat listeners will gleefully join in with the rhyming dialogue bubbles. The mixed-media illustrations created with pencil, charcoal and ink and with digitally added color are made up of simple and stylized images, but the birds are recognizable.

“The neighborhood was never the same,” the narrator reports, and neither will be the charmed listeners and readers of this cheerful invitation to invention. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2018

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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