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

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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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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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