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YOU'RE SNUG WITH ME

Parental love, sound ecological advice, and breathtaking illustrations all in one.

Starting with their birth in a den below the snowdrifts, Mama Bear nurtures her cubs and describes the world they will encounter in the spring.

The mother polar bear tells them that they will walk “where the land will let us walk” and “As long as the ice stays frozen, we will never go hungry.” The sea creatures pictured in this spread are recognizable but also almost phantasmagorical in the intricate designs, full of lines and dots inspired by traditional Indian art and looking beautiful here in this very different setting. Pictures full of stars and snowflakes swirl. “Terns and geese fly through the skies.” The rhythmic quality of their undulating forms is quite striking, and it mirrors the sonorous text. Mama gives her young ones lessons, good for human children (and adults) as well as polar bears: “We should only ever take what we need.” In telling them about the ocean and the land, the darkness of winter and the light of summer, the animals all around them, and their need to become independent after she has taught them all she knows, she reassuringly repeats the refrain: “But hush now, you’re snug with me.” In a note to readers, the author provides some additional facts about polar bears and urges everyone to be good stewards of the Earth.

Parental love, sound ecological advice, and breathtaking illustrations all in one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911373-47-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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