DESERT BATHS

A useful classroom teaching tool; it is also available in Spanish.

Throughout a day and night, a dozen U.S. desert animals demonstrate that not all animals use water to bathe.

This intriguing combination of biology and earth science follows the model of Prairie Storms (2011), by the same pair. Here, while a short text describes an animal’s behavior, the illustrations also reveal the time of day. From the turkey vulture’s early-morning sun bath to the bobcat kitten’s tongue-wash late at night, each creature is shown in its natural habitat in Rietz’s realistic paintings, done with a mix of watercolor and digital effects. As in the previous title, these double-page spreads are framed with unlabeled but relevant border designs. Six pages of backmatter include “fun facts,” an adaptations matching game, a U.S. map, further information about animal cleaning methods and telling time by the sun’s position, and instructions for making a sundial, but no index. The creatures described are fascinating, but the text lacks an explanatory, unifying introduction or conclusion. It is only through careful reading of the backmatter that readers will discover the point of the text—the variety of ways animals get rid of dirt, germs, bugs and parasites—or the orientation of the illustrations (looking north) that demonstrates the time of day.

A useful classroom teaching tool; it is also available in Spanish. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-607185-253

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH?

Irresistible.

What if an animal’s teeth grew into the space where you lost your two front teeth?

Markle chews on this interesting question in this compelling combination of imagination and fact. Spread by double-page spread, she introduces animals with unusual choppers, from the beaver’s iron-coated orange incisors to the camel’s worn-out stubs, and explains what they’re used for. Or, in the case of the narwhal’s single tusk, points out that scientists don’t yet know. On the left-hand side of each spread, photographs of the animals emphasize their teeth. On the right, a human child is portrayed with that animal’s teeth. These film-animation–style illustrations reinforce the fantasy aspect and feature a diverse range of children. A black-haired boy in flip-flops lifts a car with his elephant tusks. A girl in a wheelchair picks up soup noodles with her flexible, naked-mole-rat front teeth. The text is presented in small chunks—a paragraph of description and a toothy fact on one page facing a paragraph about what you could do with such teeth. The reading will be a challenge for the intended audience, but the subject so compelling they won't be able to resist. A backpack-wearing boy with dark-framed glasses and dripping fangs greets a rattlesnake on the cover.

Irresistible. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-48438-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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