Plodding, endearing, and humorous—not unlike a baby moose.

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THE MOOSE OF EWENKI

A surprising bond between an elder hunter and a moose sheds light on the lives of an Inner Mongolian people.

In the “vast forests” of mountainous northern China, the Indigenous Reindeer Ewenki people hunt, raise reindeer, and live in nomadic camps. When an old hunter named Gree Shek accidentally makes an orphan of a baby moose, guilt prompts the tan-skinned elder to bring the motherless calf back to his tent for the night. It’s not long before Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) is adopted into the camp, where he quickly grows to the size of a reindeer, joins the herd, and wreaks playful havoc on his adoptive home. Young readers will delight in the lumbering mammal’s antics; for instance, the ever growing Xiao Han insists on spending each night in Gree Shek’s tent—until the clumsy moose knocks it down entirely. Despite the loving bond, the aging hunter realizes that Xiao Han will never be quite suited for life among humans, and the lighthearted tale takes an emotional turn when the steadily declining hunter sends Xiao Han back into the wild. Blackcrane’s tale culminates in a rather grim scene: upon checking on Gree Shek’s campsite, fellow hunters discover his corpse (illustrated reverently by Jiu Er). Though the plot meanders, the tale is valuable for its thoughtful portrayal of the Reindeer Ewenki’s traditional ways. The illustrations’ delicate lines and shading meticulously model the characters, and there’s a solemnity to them even at their most slapstick.

Plodding, endearing, and humorous—not unlike a baby moose. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77164-538-6

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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