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COME AND DANCE, WICKED WITCH!

Music and dance work their magic on a witch—and readers.

Welcome to a community party deep in the woods.

A hare shares his plans for a nighttime woodland dance with his two good friends, an owl and a hedgehog. It won’t be any ordinary party but one in which everyone will bring something, either food or music, and everyone will be invited, “even the wicked witch.” But she is not in a good mood, is too busy anyway, and says no. Being a witch, she is standing over her pot cooking up a potion even as musical notes enter her kitchen. The potion, alas, goes awry, and the witch blames the outside noise. Bent on revenge, she flies to the scene of the party only to be warmly greeted by the hare. Invited to dance, she is soon swept up in steps of joyous abandon. This import from the Netherlands is a literary, rather lengthy tale that can be read by adults as lessons in community and the power of music to bring joy into the hearts of even the wicked. For children, it is an inviting tale of animals sharing good times with friends and with the neighborhood baddie. Delicate pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations with softly hued backgrounds of orange, pink, green, and gray effectively convey the congenial setting, personable partygoers, and free-spirited movement.

Music and dance work their magic on a witch—and readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935954-50-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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