An adept and impressive handling of a sensitive subject.

FOX

A CIRCLE OF LIFE STORY

The cycle of life in the natural world is explained using a fox as the subject.

In this thoughtful picture book, a red fox hunts and feeds her family of three cubs; as the cubs play-hunt, they grow into learning to hunt for real. Then the mother fox is hit and killed by a car. This aspect of the story is presented without anthropomorphic emotion: “Three cubs look around / sniff the ground, / hesitate… / then pad back home.” The story continues, focusing on the fox’s body and what is happening to it as it decomposes. Staying with unemotional science, the narrative tells how the decomposing body nourishes life, from the scavengers and microbes that feed on it to the nutrients it releases to the soil and air. In this way, readers come to understand that death and life are inextricably linked and that death is a catalyst for new life. The collage-style, full-color illustrations show the maturing cubs continuing to thrive, reassuring readers and reinforcing the circle-of-life theme. The illustrations vary presentations, alternating double-page spreads, spots, and full-page spreads. The images of the foxes are lively and delicate, while the forest world depicted creates an evocative setting. A thorough, scientific explanation of what happens to the physical body after death is presented at the book’s end. Members of a human family briefly illustrated have black hair and light beige skin.

An adept and impressive handling of a sensitive subject. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0692-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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