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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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WHERE DO FROGS COME FROM?

The lifecycle of the frog is succinctly summarized in this easy reader for children reading at the late first-grade level. In just one or two sentences per page, Vern details the amazing metamorphosis of the frog from egg to tadpole to adult, even injecting a little humor despite the tight word count. (“Watch out fly! Mmmm!) Large, full-color photographs on white backgrounds clearly illustrate each phase of development. Without any mention of laying eggs or fertilization, the title might be a bit misleading, but the development from black dot egg to full-grown frog is fascinating. A simple chart of the three main lifecycle steps is also included. Lifecycles are part of the standard curriculum in the early elementary grades, and this will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries, both for its informational value and as an easy reader. (Nonfiction/easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216304-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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