A succinct and satisfying first look at some fascinating creatures.

WEST COAST WILD BABIES

In this Canadian import, baby animals and birds of the Pacific West Coast region are introduced with brief descriptions of their birth environments.

The introductory pages show a human father and his baby near the shore of the Pacific Ocean, with a pair of raccoon cubs peeking out from the roots of an enormous tree. In a subtle framing device, the final spread shows a human mother with her baby, observing a mother raccoon and her two little ones on the beach. The human characters present white. The animal and bird babies are presented through a structured format in subsequent double-page spreads, with a large trim size that effectively showcases the dramatic illustrations. The appealing animals and birds stand out in scenes filled with the soft blues and greens of outdoor settings interspersed with trees, wildflowers, and ferns, and a variety of perspectives and motion enhance interest. The names of the babies are set in large type followed by a paragraph of text detailing circumstances of birth, early growth, and other details such as diet or migration patterns. One or both parents are shown tending to their young, sometimes with surprising tenderness, as in the illustration of a sea otter pup nestled on its mother’s chest. This informative introduction will be especially useful in the Pacific West Coast region, but it has a wider appeal to a broad audience in both locale and age.

A succinct and satisfying first look at some fascinating creatures. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-248-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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