An entertaining examination of oceanographic food webs, good for both everyday read-alouds and classroom instructional use.


Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?

An informational picture book that solves a whodunit of the sea in lilting, rhyming text.

Petrie (The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab, 2011) wrote and illustrated this picture book about the feeding habits of sea creatures. A young girl clad in a wet suit, flippers, and a scuba mask finds an intact clamshell, missing its clam, with an unexplained hole drilled in it. She asks a nearby adult what might have created the hole, and when he panics, convinced it must be the work of a dangerous creature (“A shark, it’s a shark, / whose tooth bit right through it. / I knew when I saw it, / a shark’s tooth could do it!”), all of the children are ordered out of the ocean. It’s up to the youthful zoological detective to discover the perpetrator so that the revelers can return to the water. Based on her own knowledge of sharks, the girl rejects the adult’s hypothesis, and she questions a sea star, a sea gull, a lobster, and a moon snail.  She is accompanied in her inquiries by three comic fish that make elaborative asides. The interrogated animals are clam predators, but they declare their innocence: “Not me, not me, / I guarantee. / I love to eat clams, / but it wasn’t me!” Each explains his or her modus operandi, which doesn’t match the evidence; the sea gull, for example, says, “I drop the clam hard / to shatter its shell. / Then I swoop down to eat / from the rock where it fell.” Cartoonish illustrations fit the whimsical tone and mood, and bright colors help solidify the seaside setting. Shifts in perspective demonstrate the scale of the animals in relation to each other and the girl and remain mostly consistent. An afterword includes additional information about each of the ocean animals featured. 

An entertaining examination of oceanographic food webs, good for both everyday read-alouds and classroom instructional use.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9705510-2-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Seatales Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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