Inquisitive, informed and lyrical; an intriguing extension to hibernation classics.

EAT LIKE A BEAR

With a subject not quite as underappreciated as their previous book’s (Vulture View, 2007) but giving it just as stunning treatment, Sayre and Jenkins follow a bear’s eating habits throughout the year.

A grizzled, lumbering bear wakes up in the springtime. What is there to eat? The bear sniffs the air. Crunches a few dandelions. Pause. “With long, strong claws, / dig in. Dig down. / Paw and claw and pull. / Find … // … ants! / Chew them, / sour and squirming. / Lick your lips.” As the months go by, bears eat many different types of food. Often thought to be powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, bears find that delicate berries and pine cones are tasty treats too. Sayre does not shy away from the carnivorous meals, but gruesome details happen off the page. Jenkins creates incredible scenery full of majestic mountains, crisp streams and a sublimely textured bear. (The bear’s fuzzy coat is created with handmade fig-bark paper—a fruit, which given the opportunity, a bear would likely love to munch!) Key food-finding action words such as drink, search, forage, hunt, gather and eat lead up to perhaps the most important one of all: prepare. The bear, full from months of feasting, settles down into a warm, cozy den.

Inquisitive, informed and lyrical; an intriguing extension to hibernation classics. (appended facts, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9039-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 29, 2018

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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