A book to excite children about animal life and reassure them of the lasting love from elders.

YOU'RE STRONG WITH ME

A mother giraffe gently instructs her child in the proper techniques for adapting to her grassland environment.

She teaches the baby giraffe to become aware of other animals, both friends and foes, and how to drink from a creek. She tells her baby about fire, both its dangers and its positive qualities. The baby giraffe complains when an oxpecker (a bird that often has a symbiotic relationship with giraffes) lands on her back, saying “But it hurts!” The mother soothingly answers: “As you grow older, your coat will get thicker and this will be just a tickle. Until then, you’re strong with me.” This phrase serves as a refrain throughout the book, just as similar comforting phrases were woven into the partnering author and illustrator’s previous books You’re Safe With Me and You’re Snug With Me (both 2018). Soundar and Mistry create an entirely original work here, shifting to a different world region and finding just enough danger and new experiences for a baby animal to encounter, with a mother always nearby to make sure her little one carefully learns what she needs to in order to feel secure as she grows up. Many shades of brown and gold evoke the hot African grasslands where these giraffes roam. The highly stylized illustrations are spectacular, full of repeating triangle and diamond shapes that are reminiscent of African textiles from various countries.

A book to excite children about animal life and reassure them of the lasting love from elders. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-911373-75-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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