Pleasing photographs with a slight story to encourage aspiring animal rescuers.

READ REVIEW

NATUMI TAKES THE LEAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN ORPHAN ELEPHANT WHO FINDS FAMILY

At an elephant orphanage in Kenya, a rescued baby grows from shy girl to leader of her pack.

Wildlife photographer Ellis documents the growth and ultimate release of the calf that keepers name Natumi and seven other orphaned baby elephants raised with her at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust until they are no longer milk-dependent. His clear images will help readers visualize their daily routine: bottle feedings, bathing in mud puddles, and both soothing and playful activities with their human keepers. An early photograph shows the tiny, shy calf hiding behind a keeper's legs. In most of these pictures, the eight are indistinguishable. Natumi’s transformation to pack leader happens offstage; readers have to take the author's word that she lags behind and later leads. A simple, expository text leaps over nearly three years of growth to describe their return to the wild. (Actually, the elephants are released to a rehabilitation unit, a protected area within a national park, but neither text nor endnotes deal with the transition from keeper-dependence to keeper-independence.) Thoughtful design sets legible, large white text on a dark-color background graced by images of local flora in a lighter color and often bordered by a Samburu-inspired pattern. A guide to pronouncing the animals’ names appears early on.

Pleasing photographs with a slight story to encourage aspiring animal rescuers. (map, facts, further information, photographer’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2561-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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