An excellent addition to the nature shelf.



From the On Bird Hill and Beyond series

Interrupting his walk on a sandy beach, a child runs after gulls playing catch with a starfish, intercepts their victim, and places it gently back into the water.

In previous titles in this series, young people have encountered birds first On Bird Hill (2016) and then On Duck Pond (2017). Here, readers visit a New England beach where a shorts-and–T-shirt–clad child with dark hair and sand-colored skin has been collecting “sticks and stones, / …shells and bleached small ends of bones.” The story is told in deftly constructed rhyming couplets whose pace seems to quicken with the chase, becoming transformed at the end. Veteran nature illustrator Marstall sets the story in Cape Cod (according to the cover copy), with accurate birds and believable scenery gently portrayed in watercolor. No reader will have difficulty recognizing herring gulls in real life; he shows them from every angle. The backmatter provides further description of other beach inhabitants seen in the illustrations: sanderlings and willets; sea stars; horseshoe crabs; hermit, Jonah, and fiddler crabs. There are also a few suggestions for protecting beaches by reducing the use of plastic, saving energy, and not letting dogs run after birds who might be nesting there.

An excellent addition to the nature shelf. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943645-18-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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