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BIG RED KANGAROO

Appealing in subject and presentation, this will be a welcome addition to primary-grade nonfiction collections.

In the hot, dry lands of central Australia, big Red leads his band of kangaroos through a night.

A band of kangaroos is called a mob, and Red is the mob leader. Not only must he lead his group to the woods for shelter from nighttime storms and daytime heat and to grassy areas for food, he must keep a wary eye out for other male kangaroos (potential challengers) and other enemies. The text is presented in dual narratives. One, surprisingly lyrical, focuses on Red’s activities; the other, straightforward and distinguished by an italicized typeface, adds details about kangaroo behavior in general. Charcoal drawings digitally splashed with the brick red of that dusty world show the band and some of the plants and animals that share their world: clumps of spinifex grasses, wallaroos, thorny devils, dingos, a goanna and a spinifex hopping mouse. Although these are identified in the text, readers with no prior knowledge of Australian flora and fauna might find the attractive art a little too allusive for easy understanding. But the narrative arc will keep them engaged and perhaps inspire further research. The book concludes with general information about kangaroos. The front endpapers show kangaroo tracks, repeated in many illustrations.

Appealing in subject and presentation, this will be a welcome addition to primary-grade nonfiction collections. (index) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7075-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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