LEO THE LIGHTNING BUG

Everyone wins in this comfortably conventional tale of a lightless young glowworm who finally gets the hang of lighting up. As friends look on laughing, little Leo grunts and squeezes—his problem not constipation, but the inability to strike a light. After retreating into a cave for a good cry, Leo remembers his mother’s advice to keep practicing, and barrels out into an inspirational lightning storm. Muscarello depicts Leo and associates as chubby, neon-purple apostrophes wearing bits of clothing and bearing broad, Disneyesque facial features. Leo ultimately learns not only how to glow, but how to laugh along with his friends too; so, unlike Eric Carle’s Very Lonely Firefly (1995), this is not about sex but self-esteem. Drachman tends to overwrite (“Like all people and bugs and fish and animals of every kind, Leo did not like to be laughed at”), but his fable makes an engaging companion for Robert Kraus’s developmental tales, or Bernard Waber’s classic about a bug with a related but opposite problem, A Firefly Named Torchy (1970). Packaged with a lively, multi-voiced dramatic reading on CD. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-9703809-0-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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