CAPTAIN BARNACLE’S AQUARIUM

Dropping in and out of lecture mode—“Here you’ll see countless species of fish. Many of these aquatic, cold-blooded vertebrates I discovered on me [sic] journey”—a snaggle-toothed pirate tour guide regales a visiting class with tales of a treasure hunt, while presenting a series of aquarium exhibits. Showing no particular sense of audience, the informational load carried on the tanks’ labels ranges at random from “Whales live in the ocean,” to “Shrimp are crustaceans,” and features, among other uselessly imprecise statements, the observation that sponges “come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.” In Miller’s flat, stylized illustrations, scenes from the Captain’s yarn often float in front of the marine exhibits. Trying too hard, this ends up just a bewildering mix; steer young readers instead to more conventional tours like Aliki’s My Visit to the Aquarium (1993). (pirate glossary) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8109-5985-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2006

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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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WHERE DO FROGS COME FROM?

The lifecycle of the frog is succinctly summarized in this easy reader for children reading at the late first-grade level. In just one or two sentences per page, Vern details the amazing metamorphosis of the frog from egg to tadpole to adult, even injecting a little humor despite the tight word count. (“Watch out fly! Mmmm!) Large, full-color photographs on white backgrounds clearly illustrate each phase of development. Without any mention of laying eggs or fertilization, the title might be a bit misleading, but the development from black dot egg to full-grown frog is fascinating. A simple chart of the three main lifecycle steps is also included. Lifecycles are part of the standard curriculum in the early elementary grades, and this will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries, both for its informational value and as an easy reader. (Nonfiction/easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216304-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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