CHARLIE AND KIWI

AN EVOLUTIONARY ADVENTURE

For a school report, Charlie and his stuffed kiwi travel in time to learn why a kiwi is so unlike other birds.

With Kiwi leading the way, Charlie goes back to 1860 to meet his five-times-great-grandfather, Charles. The three then journey to the New Zealand of 30 million years ago to see the early kiwi’s world, then to 150 million years ago to see dinosaurs with feathers. From then, they go slowly forward in time to the point when the first true bird developed before returning to their respective times. The straightforward story line demonstrates the theory of evolution as the process of a series of small changes over generations, each of which led to ever more successful reproduction. Reynolds’ cheerful cartoon-y figures think in speech bubbles; they share space with the narrative text, which is told with humor, plentiful dialogue, font sizes that vary for emphasis and attention to word choice. All this is set on generous white space, inviting and accessible to middle-grade readers and younger listeners. Produced in conjunction with a project and traveling exhibit developed by the New York Hall of Science and Reynolds’ FableVision studio, an animated bilingual (Spanish and English) version of the title is available on the exhibit website.   With appealing child and animal characters, a touch of fantasy and an adventurous narrative arc, this conveys an important scientific concept in a child-friendly package. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

 

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2112-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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