Although inevitably and consciously reminiscent of Make Way for Ducklings, this book impresses all on its own with its fine...


Based on events that occurred in Montauk, N.Y., in 2000, this title begins when Mama and her five little ducks go for a walk. A surprising fall leads to a dramatic rescue and this endearing story that’s sure to warm hearts for years to come.

Moore chooses straightforward, rhythmic language that engages young readers. “Mama Duck swam to shore. She hopped out onto the grass. Right behind her came Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin…and last of all…Little Joe.” The family walks through the park, stops for “a bite to eat” and goes on their way. When Mama crosses a storm drain, her little ones follow. Unfortunately the slats in the drain are quite wide, and each duckling falls in. “That could have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t, because…” each time all seems lost for the ducklings, a concerned citizen becomes involved in a step that leads to their eventual rescue. Carpenter uses charcoal and digital media to create illustrations that have a distinctly retro appeal that enhances this classic-feeling tale. From the ducklings’-eye view of alarmed people peering through the grate to the traffic-stopping moment when Mama and her babies are reunited, young ones will be enticed by the events on every page.

Although inevitably and consciously reminiscent of Make Way for Ducklings, this book impresses all on its own with its fine design, compelling story, expressive images and gentle environmental message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-439-44861-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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. 29, 2018

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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