A child-friendly environmental message with an emphasis on teamwork.

CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE TREE MACHINE

The tree-planting machine a young superhero invents explodes with the effort, but he discovers that children working together can help save animals and their forest homes.

Bookless and Deeptown return with this lively follow-up to Captain Green and the Plastic Scene (2018), starring the same environment-loving protagonist. Readers meet him happily inventing something. But, like many young inventors, he’s not sure what it will do. Fate intervenes with calls for help from Hornbill, Elephant, and Orangutan. Trees are being cut, harvested, and burned, and they have no food or homes. The caped, masked hero tweaks his invention to plant trees—but how can he plant so many? His invention blows up with a “BANG!” but the sight of a classroom full of students studying trees reminds him that teamwork can also become a Tree Machine. Captain Green’s language is appealing: “Oh, green gravy!” he expostulates, and “My green-ness, this is fun!” he says as they all plant trees together. Deeptown’s cartoon illustrations show an engaging small White hero, a diverse classroom, and animals that look like animals but whose body language and expressions carry emotion. Most environmental educators would prefer not to burden preschoolers with the issue of environmental destruction, but if it seems necessary, this is lighthearted enough to fill the bill. A spread of backmatter includes concept amplification and reasonable suggestions for helping save forests.

A child-friendly environmental message with an emphasis on teamwork. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-981-48-9320-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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