Swipe left on this one: It’s no keeper.

BABBIT & JOAN,

A RABBIT AND A PHONE

Can Babbit the rabbit cope with giving his phone, Joan, a break?

Anthropomorphic animals and animate cellphones populate this picture book, which opens with the protagonist, Babbit, observing a strike led by overworked phones. He realizes that his own phone, Joan, “was exhausted! She’d been taking pictures and sending texts for Babbit all day, every day.” Babbit decides to give Joan a break and goes about the day without her while she stays home and rests. His meanderings are filled with discovery since, without Joan there to capture his attention, he observes many things in the natural world that he’d never noticed before. Then he encounters a bird and a bear who are also without their phones (one’s battery ran out, and the other’s was lost). The trio enjoy one another’s company and work together to find their way back to the town without the aid (or interference) of their phones; clearly, they’re all better off because of the break from technology. At book’s end Babbit returns to a rested, happy Joan, and they commit to more alone time for each in the future. The cartoon-style illustrations depict animal characters with egg-shaped torsos and rubbery limbs wandering about a gently Technicolor world. They imply a far younger audience than seems appropriate for the message.

Swipe left on this one: It’s no keeper. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-94-788820-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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