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DOES A FIDDLER CRAB FIDDLE?

Cheerful and modestly informative, this will be most appreciated where these crabs are familiar.

Silly questions and straightforward answers make up this visual and verbal introduction to the fiddler crab.

A spoonful of sugar makes facts sticky. Here, alternating pages ask a question in the form of a joke and answer it with a factual statement about fiddler crabs, common residents of the sand and mudflats, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The authors cover important characteristics: their unequally sized claws, their habitat, their digging, breathing, eating, and senses, curious locomotion and regenerative abilities, and other protective adaptations. The humor is irresistible, and Sandford makes good use of it in his paintings. The opening, titular question is illustrated with a top-hatted crab playing a violin. Later, readers see crabs with hard hats building in sand, crabs with chef’s hats making pizza, crabs with sunglasses, skateboards, knitting needles, hockey sticks, and more. The pacing is good; the questions and answers often involve a page turn, but some scenes get (and deserve) double-page spreads. This simple overview does not point out that it is only the male who has "one enormous claw." In the text, he "breathes air," but the backmatter states that these crabs "breathe through gills, which they must keep moist." In fact, they do both.

Cheerful and modestly informative, this will be most appreciated where these crabs are familiar. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943978-03-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Persnickety Press

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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