THE SONGS OF BIRDS

STORIES AND POEMS FROM MANY CULTURES

Palin's big, crisply drawn, vibrantly colored avian portraits intensify the impact of these moving, hilarious, thoughtful poems and folktales. Drawing from traditions worldwide, storyteller Lupton alternates nine retold creation myths, trickster tales, and pourquoi stories with free verse songs, carrying readers along with Pigeon and Sparrow Hawk to steal fire from the Moon (Australian), with Raven to get an all-too-close look at a whale's insides (Inuit), to hear the haunting songs of the Birds of Rhiannon, and to find out why it's not Snake's fault that Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden (Arab/Palestinian). The tone isn't always as light, and there are some passages that verge on gruesome, particularly in an Orissa (African) tribute to the vulture, and a Brazilian tale in which birds solicit human help to exact revenge on a hunter. Lupton (Tales of Wisdom and Wonder, 1998) appends learned commentary and source notes. Though children (and some older grown ups too) may struggle with the cramped typeface, the stories and pictures make a memorable combination. (notes on legends, source notes, bibliography, acknowledgements) (Folk tales/poetry. 810)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-84148-045-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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