A commendably effective and unvarnished presentation of wolf culling, for readers who are ready for it.

READ REVIEW

SPUR

A WOLF'S STORY

A wolf whose life is disrupted by culling struggles to survive in this picture book.

This is not a picture book for very sensitive young readers. Its subject matter, shooting wolves from helicopters, is raw. The story is told from the viewpoint of Spur, a young wolf who lives with her brother and their pack. Lacking food in the logged forest, the pack begins to travel to an unlogged grove in the mountains, when a “thunderfly” attacks. Aoyagi’s chilling double-page spread shows the ominous shadow of a helicopter hovering over the pack, and after the page turn, another double-page spread shows a bullet whizzing by Spur. Spur is struck in the paw, and the pack scatters. Alone, Spur eventually comes upon another wolf pack, which welcomes her, and readers learn about pack social structure as Robertson describes how Spur helps mind the young pups to gain trust and to pay her debt. Spur’s new pack begins to make its way to unlogged ground using the gravel logging road, and Aoyagi’s illustrations effectively contrast harmonious shapes of the pristine natural world with jagged shapes in the illustrations of logged forest, log trucks, and another helicopter. When the thunderfly comes again, Spur warns her new pack, and they reach the high ground safely, where Spur is reunited with her brother.

A commendably effective and unvarnished presentation of wolf culling, for readers who are ready for it. (author’s note, resources) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77164-341-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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