ROBIN, WHERE ARE YOU?

Lucy goes birding with her grandfather, learning to use binoculars and identifying many birds before they finally find a robin.

In this unlikely bird-watching trip, the pair see common birds such as mourning doves and Canada geese and surprising birds such as a pileated woodpecker and Eastern screech owl, all before they find a robin’s nest and then the robin. The simple sentences of the text seem designed for early readers, who may also be intrigued by the flip-out additions to the pages. These reveal the birds and supply an interesting fact about each one. Wood's colorful illustrations are primitive in style but capture the birds’ silhouettes and color schemes. Experienced birders would have no trouble identifying the 15 birds introduced, although they might be astonished at the uniformity of the pigeons. Curiously, though mallards are prominently featured among the birds at the pond and also in the fold-out quiz at the end (no answers provided), they are left nameless. Inexcusably, towhee is misspelled as “t w o h e e” twice. Readers in western states should know that a number of these birds are not found west of the Rockies. Better options for encouraging young birders include Carol L. Malnor, Sandy F. Fuller and Louise Schroeder's The Blues Go Birding (2010), Joanne Ryder and Susan Estelle Kwas’ Wild Birds (2003), Jim Arnosky’s Crinkleroot’s 25 Birds Every Child Should Know (1993) or Cathryn and John Sill’s About Birds (1991).

Skip this one. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60905-192-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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