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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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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