A beautiful tribute to a much-maligned animal with which we share our world.

READ REVIEW

HUNGRY COYOTE

We share our cities with coyotes.

This masterfully illustrated appreciation follows a coyote that lives near a lakeshore in an urban park through four seasons of hunting for food for himself and his family. Extensive alliteration and the repetition of phrase patterns characterize a text that reads like poetry and describes the activities of the coyote and those of the oblivious children playing in the park. During a summer storm, for instance, the children “jump, twirl, and umbrella-whirl,” while the coyote “herds his playful pups to shelter.” There are sounds and smells and surprising sensory imagery: “Wind whirls autumn’s litter into rustling piles.” Coyote’s foraging is not always successful. He tries and fails to catch a vole. But he grabs sausages from a summer picnic, and in the fall, he catches an old Canada goose to feed a family that now includes six growing pups. Usually foregrounding the coyote, Caple’s realistic paintings also document the changing seasons, from midwinter to winter’s onset again. Each spread has a few lines of text; occasionally an onomatopoetic sound word swoops across the image. One icy blue spread is nearly empty; the coyote “howls for spring” in the distance. His is not an easy life, and readers will come away with sympathy and appreciation.

A beautiful tribute to a much-maligned animal with which we share our world. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-87351-964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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