Attractive and surprisingly informative, this should join the duo’s Eat Like a Bear (2013) on every preschool and primary...

READ REVIEW

WOODPECKER WHAM!

With bouncy verse and colorful illustrations, an experienced picture-book team introduces a familiar bird.

Focusing on six woodpecker species common in eastern deciduous forests—downy, red-bellied, red-headed and pileated woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and northern flickers—Sayre describes typical behaviors: shredding, carving, drilling, messaging, feeding, cleaning, courting, hiding, nesting, nurturing and storing food. She even mentions their useful seed-enriched droppings. Each page or spread includes a well-rhymed and rhythmic quatrain set on an illustration showing the action described. Repetitive onomatopoeic sounds such as “CHOP, CHIP, CHOP!” and “BONK-BONK-BONK” combine with plentiful alliteration to make the simple verses come alive. Each species is recognizable in Jenkins’ cut-and-torn–paper collages by its head markings (but not so clearly from the striped and spotted bodies). The birds are shown in their usual habitat over four seasons, sometimes up close and sometimes from a middle distance. A particularly appealing image shows a flicker gorging on cherries, its head and upper body stained with the juice. The pictured birds are identified in thumbnail illustrations included in the extensive backmatter for older readers and adults: six pages of description of the woodpecker world which amplify the read-aloud text.

Attractive and surprisingly informative, this should join the duo’s Eat Like a Bear (2013) on every preschool and primary nature shelf. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8842-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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