Not the most satisfying, accurate, or entertaining entrée to climate change.




“Chicken Little” for the environmentally aware.

When Loony Little feels a drop of water hit the top of her head, she wails, “The polar ice cap is melting! I must go tell the Polar Bear Queen!” She meets a dovekie, a puffin, and an arctic hare along the way, several commenting about the effect: “the sea will rise, and my den might flood!” But when the group meets Sealy Sally, they rethink meeting the Polar Bear Queen, who recently ate Sealy Sally’s cousin. Foxy Loxy offers to safely escort them, but Loony Little puts paid to his nefarious plan when she stumbles across the sign pointing to his den. A well-aimed piece of ice convinces Foxy Loxy the group is right, and he takes the news to the Polar Bear Queen…who promptly solves a more immediately pressing need than a melting ice cap. The four friends head off across the ice dolefully wondering what they can do. “It’s up to us to find out,” says Loony Little. “All of us.” Backmatter explains climate change and the greenhouse effect, gives some ideas for ways kids can help—though many are either educational/research-based or work-intensive (grow a garden, plant trees)—and provides additional info about each of the animals. The textured paintings don’t always match this information, often showing the loon on solid surfaces standing upright as a goose would, which is physically impossible.

Not the most satisfying, accurate, or entertaining entrée to climate change. (resources) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-117-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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. 29, 2018

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...


From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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