EARTH MOTHER

A wry and cosmic look at the interdependence of all things, wonderfully illustrated by the inimitable Dillons. Earth Mother arises, sings a morning song and does her work: hanging green acorns on the trees; putting summer inside a flower seed; sending forth lightning and snow. She meets Man by the river, who thanks her for the delicious frogs that ease his hunger. But why, asks Man, does she torment him with “wretched Mosquito?” When Earth Mother encounters Frog, he thanks her for Mosquito, who fills his belly, and castigates Man, who catches and eats frogs. As she continues to the ocean depths and meadows, she meets Mosquito, who is grateful for Man, “tender and delicious,” and wishes there were no more frogs. Each watercolor-and-colored pencil image has its frame broken by a plant that springs from the bottom of the page: thistle, lily, lotus, rose. Mother Earth’s garments are a gown the color of rich earth and an ever-changing tunic with patterns of cloud or leaf or starfish or peacock feather or African kente cloth. Curvilinear and geometric patterns shape the illustrations as Earth Mother moves from the savannah to the snows, from falling rain to falling fireflies. Beautiful and satisfying; its own teachable moment. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8027-8992-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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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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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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