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

DOES A FIDDLER CRAB FIDDLE?

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 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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