A keen introduction to a way of being in the world.


The fundamentals of dog sledding emerge in this story of two youngsters, one a boy and the other a dog, eager to join the team and run.

Jake is a young Inuk living in Nunavut, in the Canadian north, with his dog, Kamik; such can be surmised by his calling his grandparents ataatasiaq and anaanatsiaq and the fact that there is an awful lot of snow on the ground, just right for mushing, a strong Inuit tradition. One morning Jake brings Kamik—the word for “sealskin boot” in Inuit; Baker’s story is captivating enough to make non-Inuit readers want to look these things up—to his master-musher uncle’s house to show him off. Jake’s uncle is a serious musher and is pleased with Kamik. “Smart, hard-working dogs are the best dogs. Being a good musher takes a lot of work.” He tells Jake about the things he will need to know: how to rebraid ropes and harnesses, build sleds and a doghouse, and, not least, “Dogs rely on us to keep them healthy.” Jake is a bit overwhelmed when he realizes his ignorance. But his uncle claps him on the back. “You can learn alongside your dogs.” It is one of those life lessons that need but a few words: we all must learn, we will all make mistakes, perseverance is key—neatly delivered, making learning fun rather than drudgery. Leng’s artwork sets the story in its element, with its spare landscape and close community.

A keen introduction to a way of being in the world. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77227-125-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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