Excellent layout, text, and illustrations make for a thoroughly satisfying story.

HANK'S BIG DAY

THE STORY OF A BUG

Pill bug Hank’s day moves from ordinary to extraordinary when Amelia, a dark-skinned girl with huge eyes and black braids, gives him a ride on her pilot’s helmet.

Amelia’s appearance on the cover, gazing down at the diminutive, sweet-faced Hank, is a welcome addition to shelves groaning with light-skinned cover models. Amelia plays her stellar role after Hank begins his day. In large print against white paper, Hank’s daily ritual of crawling out from under a rock is related: as he “shimmies through tall grass” and “nibbles on a dead leaf.” Readers see and read about Hank’s world—including other insects—through his slow, ground-level progression, appropriately depicted in earth tones. Humorous labels (“weird worm”) are hand-lettered. One funny sequence shows Hank’s laborious climb up a tiny twig—his “exercise stick.” The climax arrives as Amelia carefully lifts Hank onto her helmet, then rushes around her yard, arms widespread, pretending to be Amelia Earhart. The narrative continues in large print, while speech bubbles are used for Amelia’s narration of their flight around the world: “In Paris, the plane just misses the Eiffel Tower.” After Amelia has set Hank back where she found him—a helpful hint to budding naturalists—Hank retraces his steps back to his home. The energy of art and text move seamlessly down to nighttime—and a young reader’s nap or bedtime.

Excellent layout, text, and illustrations make for a thoroughly satisfying story. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51150-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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