A captivating work that offers vivid lessons about lobsters (and crabs).

Something's Tugging on My Claw!

A rare blue lobster searches for the creature who took his claw in this brightly hued, educational children’s book.

Some days in the ocean are more treacherous than others, but when you’re a highly visible blue lobster, you do your best to watch out. When a young blue lobster feels something tugging hard on his claw, he does what lobsters do—he lets it go. Called “dropping” a claw, this act allows the hero to escape from his perceived threat. After discarding his claw, he sets out on a journey to find out who was pulling it. He sees a Jonah crab, a lobster trap, a swordfish, an octopus, and a horseshoe crab, among others, during his quest, avoiding them just in case they want a nice lobster dinner. In the midst of trying to uncover the culprit, the lobster molts his old, hard shell. He then realizes that he’s got his second claw back—albeit a tad undersized. With the threat gone (the lobster discovers that it was a human, enchanted by his cobalt hue, who yanked at his claw), the blue lobster is free to resume his under-the-sea life—but this time, he’ll wait until that second claw grows in. Little fish narrators dot the pages of the work, giving inside information about the narrative, such as explaining what a kitchen in a lobster trap is or that fish hide in the sand to avoid predators. The book culminates in a page of lobster facts aimed at budding biologists, complete with an illustrated diagram of all the important crustacean parts. Petrie (The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab, 2011, etc.), a former outreach specialist for the New England Aquarium, definitely knows her sea life. Both educational and sensational, this book should delight readers young and old, especially serving those who have an interest in marine biology. The little fish swimmers are a wonderful addendum to this children’s tale, answering many of the questions that could arise from young readers and pushing them to conduct their own research into the lobster’s ocean life. Petrie’s colorful illustrations are scientific enough to be accurate but not so complex that they become dull. Though the work is intended for younger readers, the prose is lively—many an adult wouldn’t mind reading this at bedtime to marine-leaning children again and again.

A captivating work that offers vivid lessons about lobsters (and crabs).

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9705510-3-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Seatales Pub Co

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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