CLARABELLE

MAKING MILK AND SO MUCH MORE

Here’s a Holstein who makes a fetching subject for Lundquist’s camera, though this easy-reading portrait of a dairy farm’s “four-footed factory” leaves the boundary between fact and invention a little vague. Never explaining why Clarabelle has a name when her 1,200 herdmates evidently don’t, the author joins her as she gives birth (offstage), then disappears while her calf—seen in an obviously posed shot—is fed “first milk” from a bottle by two farm lads. Off she trundles to the milking center, and afterward back to the manger, where she stands on bedding made from her own processed dung and feeds on a mix of silage that may be “tossed like a garden salad,” but certainly doesn’t look like one. Along with tallying the many products made from Clarabelle’s milk and manure (methane from the latter even powers an electrical generator) and explaining with tantalizing brevity how a few of them are made, Peterson introduces some members of the farm’s owning family. Younger readers may get a clearer picture of how a dairy farm works from Gail Gibbons’s The Milk Makers (1985) or Aliki’s Milk from Cow to Carton (1992), but this provides a more personal view of the enterprise. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59078-310-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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