A good first look at adaptations that stands above others despite its sometimes imperfect comparisons to humans.

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A WARM WINTER TAIL

A cozy “tail” compares the adaptations animals and humans have for surviving winter’s chill.

Baby animals ask grown-ups how humans keep warm in the winter. A fox kit asks, “How do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama? / Do they wrap their tails tight / ’round their bodies just right / as heaters to chase out the chill?” Mama answers, “No fur tail for draping, / for covering and caping; / their blankets are cotton and wool.” Each baby in turn asks if humans adapt as they do. The wide variety of animals portrayed ensures that most winter adaptations are covered, though camouflage is lacking. The responses vary in their success (or failure) at conveying humans’ comparable ways of combatting the cold, and the rhythm sometimes stumbles. The “For Creative Minds” section includes a spread of extensive further information and two pages of activities—matching animal to adaptation (the only place where the animals are identified by captioned thumbnails) and then sorting the animals into their four classes. More activities and learning materials are on the publisher’s website. Wald’s lifelike illustrations incorporate speech bubbles for the babies’ questions and include humorous imaginings of how humans would look with animals’ adaptations, e.g., a child with butterfly wings.

A good first look at adaptations that stands above others despite its sometimes imperfect comparisons to humans. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-607185-291

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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