AMAZING ARMADILLOS

This Step 3 title in the Step into Reading series explores the little-known insect-eating–and-digging machine that is the armadillo. Following one female nine-banded armadillo through a year, readers will learn where this mammal lives, how she protects herself, what and how she eats and how her armor is an asset. Seen as a pest by some in the southern areas they inhabit, she is chased away from homes by people who dislike the holes she digs and her smell. In the spring, she gives birth to identical quadruplets. Short sentences with pronunciation help for new vocabulary, and illustrations that support the text make this a good choice for newly independent readers. Mirocha’s illustrations are realistic and treat readers to several points of view, including an aerial perspective of the armadillo as she tries to escape from a dog. The artwork has a digital look, enhancing the not-of-this-world strangeness of the armadillo. A good nonfiction choice for animal lovers testing the reading waters. (Informational early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-84352-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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