Be prepared for leash requests—so convincing is this guidebook. Teachers may also appreciate it as a humorous model when...

HOW TO WALK AN ANT

Some children have lemonade stands; the protagonist in this debut promotes ant-walking tours.

Young entrepreneur Amariyah has paper-white skin, a lanky mop of scribbly black hair, and a crooked smile. Copies of this how-to guide are stacked near her booth. The nine-step process, elucidated with tips and rules, makes up the majority of the narrative, starting with finding an ant and introducing yourself: “Don’t be antsy. Ants can smell fear with their ANTennae.” Irregularly formed headings and text look like a child’s writing, adding to the handmade aesthetic. Gray watercolor washes—sometimes fleshed out with trees or buildings—form the backdrop, with spots of color highlighting important details such as the Expert Walker’s chartreuse dress and her grandmother’s magenta nails. Some sections include footnotes that refer to appendices, where readers can learn actual ant anatomy in order to avoid harmful leash placement. At the climax, several spreads reveal what happens when an ant-walker and a ladybug-walker (also paper-white, with spiky black ponytails) become entangled in a colorful snarl of threads: ice cream, friendship, and an insect funeral are elements of the aftermath. Luckily, the backmatter also covers respectful burials. While not everyone will be drawn to the gray palette, the occasional sense of emptiness, and the disheveled caricatures, budding entomologists (and plenty of regular kids) will delight in the focus on these commonly seen insects.

Be prepared for leash requests—so convincing is this guidebook. Teachers may also appreciate it as a humorous model when explaining elements of informational text.   (appendices, glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16262-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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