The orangutan’s face has a natural charm, and he seems to be smiling as he enjoys his time in the water. Suryia’s...

SURYIA SWIMS!

Suryia the orangutan learns to swim in this fascinating story that features appealing photographs of the amazing ape swimming with his trainer and an array of other animals that live in the same nature preserve.

The authors and photographer first introduced the captivating orangutan with their story of his friendship with a huge hound dog, Suryia and Roscoe (2011). The same format is used again in this sequel; full-page photographs alternate with smaller pictures laid out like a photo album. The cheerful text describes Suryia’s interest in water play and subsequent swimming lessons in a logical, clearly expressed manner, with intriguing details that convey Suryia’s behavior and personality. The photographs are amazing: Suryia paddling with Roscoe the dog, hugging his trainer and gently holding a tiger at the edge of the swimming pool. Stories of animal friendships have become popular in the last few years, and this engaging book will have wide appeal to a wide variety of readers, from preschoolers through elementary-age children.   

The orangutan’s face has a natural charm, and he seems to be smiling as he enjoys his time in the water. Suryia’s interactions with his pool pals will bring smiles to the faces of animal lovers young and old. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9317-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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