A basic introduction to the environmental hazards that endanger whales.

LITTLE WHALE IN DEEP TROUBLE

A STORY INSPIRED BY A TRUE EVENT

A young whale finds himself in jeopardy.

Oscar, a young whale, lives with his mother deep in the ocean, surrounded by all sorts of different animals. He always feels safe—until the day he gets trapped in an abandoned scrap of fishing net. Separated from his mother and initially unable to move, he rises for air and is freed by some divers, the likes of which he’s never seen before. After a “dance” for his rescuers, he is joyfully reunited with his mother. Based on a true story, this well-intentioned tale includes some facts about humpback whales and some of the perils they face from pollution as well as hunting. The focus here is educational rather than artistic; it appears that young readers and listeners are meant to attend to the plot and lesson rather than a gracefully told story; the language is sometimes clumsy, while the artwork is pleasant but not particularly artful. The consistent, nonstandard capitalization of “Mama” regardless of context (“Where is his Mama?”) gives the text an amateurish feel. Still the book’s focus on the plight of whales may make it helpful in the classroom as a supporting resource, though it stops short of providing children with concrete measures that may encourage recycling or activism.

A basic introduction to the environmental hazards that endanger whales. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6851-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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