There's a Bug in My Blossom

Get a closer view of a variety of insects and plants in this bright, engaging children’s book.
Featuring a handful of animals, including a cat who implores readers to explore the insects and plants around them, this educational book dives quickly into descriptions of common and not-so-common crawling creatures—carpenter bees and their wood-boring habits, grasshoppers, wolf spiders, walking sticks and even predatory lizards. There are also discussions on the effects of pesticides on insects, dying bee colonies, how bugs help pollinate plants, butterfly coloration and more—overall, a well-rounded look at flora-related fauna. Donaho’s debut children’s book boasts clear, brightly colored photos that immerse readers in the insects’ habitats. Vibrant and engaging, they add a special touch. The prose, however, may be a bit too advanced for younger children, who will nonetheless enjoy the pictures of bugs; accompanied by an adult, grade schoolers will still learn a great deal. Easy questions located on the photo pages mesh nicely with the more advanced writing on the text pages. The only real weak spots are the bookending quotes from various animals (ranging from an exotic primate to an ordinary squirrel) that don’t add much: “Wow! Did you see all those bugs?” “Yes, and all we had to do was look!” While children will love the animal pictures, more insect-related photos interspersed among the text would have been a welcome addition. The book also offers tips on how to look for insects in flowers in readers’ own backyards—a nice inclusion sure to inspire some afternoon exploring.

One part education and one part entertainment, this vibrant book will delight readers of all ages, from bug beginners to almost-entomologists.

Pub Date: May 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493604067

Page Count: 54

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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