Old or new, this success story will be welcomed by nature lovers.

SKYDIVER

SAVING THE FASTEST BIRD IN THE WORLD

Threatened with extinction across North America, peregrine falcons were bred in captivity and provided with new territories until their populations rebounded.

Godkin begins her account of this environmental good news by introducing a peregrine pair who return from migration, court and lay eggs, only to have their first eggs taken by a rock-climbing human being. Luckily, peregrines will lay a second clutch, and the human has a good reason for the theft. Because the raptors’ DDT-affected eggs are too fragile to hatch normally, researchers have found a way to raise and breed them in captivity, releasing some into the wild after a carefully shielded chickhood and thereby saving the endangered species. Dramatic oil paintings show falcons in various activities—soaring, diving, hunting and feeding their chicks—and chicks being fed in captivity. In a change of pace, one spread shows a city street filled with people demonstrating against DDT. Later, a marauding great horned owl finds a nest; the surviving nestlings are moved to a city skyscraper ledge. Readers of this present-tense account who follow the links mentioned in the author’s note may be surprised to learn that this is not a new story. Peregrine falcons were removed from the U.S. and Canadian endangered species lists in 1999, though they’re still monitored in both countries.

Old or new, this success story will be welcomed by nature lovers. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927485-61-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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