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FOX AND THE JUMPING CONTEST

Kids may want to have jumping contests of their own after reading this—just omit jetpacks.

A trickster jumps on a sneaky scheme to best all others in a contest.

Fox isn’t much of a jumper—amusingly illustrated in the frontmatter—but this doesn’t stop him from aiming to win first prize in competition. Instead of practicing rigorously, he dons a self-built jetpack to give him an extra boost. Other contestants gamely try, some faring better than others, and naturally, Rabbit effortlessly jumps highest. Thanks to his device, Fox leaps to extraordinary heights and is soon way out of bounds and out of sight, soaring into space. Unable to wait for Fox’s return, the judges begin the awards ceremony. As Rabbit ascends to first place, who should fall into the trophy cup? Why, Fox, who, astute readers will have noted, has been hurtling back toward Earth all the while and lands just in time to win—or does he? The text is drily witty, and the comical illustrations, rendered in pencils, watercolors, and ink and assembled digitally, are energetic and appealing, Children will enjoy seeing Rabbit and Fox tussle over the trophy and should appreciate the story’s funny outcome, representing a compromise of sorts. Animal competitors represent various species, and, in a nice touch, all (except Fox and Rabbit) demonstrate good self-esteem, fair play, and sportsmanship.

Kids may want to have jumping contests of their own after reading this—just omit jetpacks. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239874-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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