Another outstanding appreciation of the natural world for young readers and listeners both.

OUT ON THE PRAIRIE

Traditionally patterned verses celebrate the flora, fauna and wide sky of the mixed-grass prairie of Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

“Out on the prairie where the snakeroot greets the sun, / Lived a shaggy mother bison and her little calf One.” As she did in Deep in the Swamp (2007), Bateman has chosen representative features and creatures to introduce a remarkable ecosystem. Counting from one to 10, she goes on to include pronghorns, meadowlarks, prairie dogs, grasshoppers, grouse, owls, rattlesnakes, coyotes and toads in a series of verses that also span the day from dawn to night. The poetry is not sacrificed to the information; she pays careful attention to language and rhythm, using splendid verbs. It reads aloud smoothly. Swan’s energetic cut-paper, mixed-media illustrations delight and instruct. She includes found objects and hand-painted paper, collaged and digitally combined on double-page spreads that blend into a spatter-paint frame in the story section. Plants and animals are identifiable in the pictures and described further in the backmatter, 10 pages of “Prairie Flora and Fauna Facts.” This describes the animals’ child-bearing and -rearing habits, offers further information about the plants, and defines the term “prairie.”

Another outstanding appreciation of the natural world for young readers and listeners both. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-377-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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