STAR OF THE SEA

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A STARFISH

An introduction to the ochre sea star, a Pacific coast variety. Halfmann appropriately focuses on sea stars’ more amazing adaptations—sticky tube feet, a stomach that can be extruded from its body and the ability to regenerate its rays. Children follow along as one sea star uses the night’s high tide to reach the shore, where the mussel beds and her next meal lie. Along the way, she uses her tube feet to right herself after a wave flips her, works to pry apart some mussels, eats her fill and narrowly escapes a hungry seagull. Unfortunately, the author misses some great opportunities to introduce vocabulary. Backmatter includes a diagram of a sea star, resources for finding out more, a four-word glossary and two pages of extensive additional information about sea stars. Paley’s beautiful artwork consists of collages of hand-painted papers of watercolor blends and textures. While the colors and textures are truly evocative of the ocean setting, the illustrations fall a bit short in terms of scientific detail. The text mentions (without naming) the madreporite, the opening in the top of the starfish that allows it to take in water and power its tube feet, but the light-colored, off-center circle that marks this spot is missing in the illustration. This combines with the lack of scientific vocabulary to keep this from being a solid resource, but it could serve to spark further interest. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 24, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9073-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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