A moving, memorable addition to the nature collection.

THE STRANDED WHALE

A whale stranding becomes the occasion for a sad life lesson.

Discovering a beached whale on the shore near their Maine home, Sally and her brothers, aided by the Coast Guard, do all they can to save it, without success. Yolen wisely sets her story in 1971, a time uncomplicated by cellphones or hovering parents. Sally’s straightforward account is set in short lines on the double-page spreads. Through her voice, readers hear the surprise of their first encounter, the desperation of their efforts, their disappointment, and her anger and regret. Using digital and oil paints and pencil, debut illustrator Cataldo provides expansive seashore views and close-ups showing just a portion of the massive whale at a time. At one point readers see the whole scene in the distance as the children first did; another angle, high in the sky, shows a small Sally running toward the waves in an effort to get water to the drying whale. The darkness of the end is echoed in the dimly lit walk home, a sad family dinner, and the blue background of Sally’s dream sea, which almost drowns the words of her going-to-sleep wish to have seen it “heading out to deep water, / lifting its tail, and diving deep, / and free.”

A moving, memorable addition to the nature collection. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6953-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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