ONE MORE ACORN

Still no more than a rough draft despite being buffed up by an editor, Freeman’s son and a second illustrator, Jody Wheeler, this sketchy tale of a Washington, D.C., squirrel rooting through autumn leaves for acorns buried “last summer” should have stayed in the trunk. Crossing a broad avenue and scurrying through an open gate—“which,” as the wooden text has it, “is something not every visitor can do, you may be certain”—Earl the squirrel scampers about the Mall, past other squirrels and a group of children planting trees. In what passes for the climax, a parade turns out to be only a temporary obstacle to his final sortie, as the same children hold up their hands so he can make the leap back across the street and home to a “Well done, my dear,” from his wife. Perky squirrels and several familiar D.C. monuments in the backgrounds give the broadly brushed art some visual interest, but not enough to compensate for the stiff prose and negligible plot. A disappointment, particularly after the likewise posthumous but far more finished Manuelo the Playing Mantis (2004). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-01083-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

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. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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