Potential confusion aside, this well-told and beautifully illustrated offering makes a distinctive addition to folklore...

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BUSY-BUSY LITTLE CHICK

Based on a fable of the Nkundo people of Central Africa, this compelling tale brings home the message that if you want something done right—or at all—sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Mama Nsoso’s shivering chicks are in desperate need of a new home. Though Mama promises to build them a cozy one that will keep the wind, rain and cold at bay, each day she is distracted by something delicious to eat, and each night the disappointed chicks cry with cold. Except, that is, for the persistent, industrious Little Chick, who, exhausted from working alone and in secret on a new nest for the family, falls right asleep. When the nest is ready, Little Chick invites his brothers and sisters in for a good night’s rest. The tale incorporates non-English words and sounds without any context or framing device, and readers must locate the author’s note and glossary on the final page to discover that these words are from the language of the Nkundo people, who are the original tellers of this tale. To further complicate matters, while Pinkney’s vibrant, energetically loose illustrations lovingly and skillfully render Mama and her chicks, they give almost no indication of setting.

Potential confusion aside, this well-told and beautifully illustrated offering makes a distinctive addition to folklore collections.   (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34746-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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