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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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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