A useful presentation of an important mathematical idea.



An elderly carpenter makes birdhouses that attract the songsters he loves and offer a lesson in the concept of multiplication.

This Korean import nicely demonstrates the fact that multiplication is actually the repetition of sums. From two birds in each of two birdhouses (2x2=4; 2+2=4) to a condominium complex of bird pairs in each of the holes in four duplexes (2x8=16; 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2=16), readers and listeners are gently led through repeated iterations. A note on the verso reminds adults that it is not “ecologically possible” for so many bird species to live together, and the illustrator's colorful, scratchy paintings show realistic but indeterminate birds. But the point here is not the birds, it’s the old carpenter’s love for them, his careful craftsmanship, and the math concept they reveal. Two species of birds each lay three eggs; three species each lay four eggs. The wonder continues. No translator is identified for the simple text of this narrative, and the translation is sometimes awkward. The birds “often stayed put for a long while. Other times, they flew south for the winter but returned to the woods in the spring.” But Kim’s illustrations are beautifully expressive, with close-ups of the birds and the carpenter and wide-angle scenes at different seasons and times of day.

A useful presentation of an important mathematical idea. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939248-05-3

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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. 29, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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