An appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life.

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A CARIBBEAN SEA ADVENTURE

A daydreaming Arctic seal finds himself lost in tropical waters in this children’s picture book.

This book is based on the true story of a young seal that became stranded off Antigua in the Caribbean. Thanks to the Antiguan Coast Guard, he was rescued and returned to his native waters. As told by Hillhouse (With Grace, 2016, etc.), the story centers on an Arctic seal called Dolphin because of his nose. A slow swimmer and a daydreamer, Dolphin falls behind his friends one day and drifts into the path of an enormous ship, which hits him and knocks him out. Waking up, Dolphin finds himself in strange waters. The sea is too warm and the creatures are unfamiliar, though friendly. He learns he’s in the Caribbean and that some good humans might help him. He meets actual dolphins and wishes he could stay with these new friends, but he also wants to go home. As he’s carried on a stretcher toward a plane, Dolphin can’t wait to talk about his Caribbean adventure. A maze puzzle is included. Boodoo-Fortuné’s illustrations convey the Caribbean’s beautiful colors; large lash-fringed eyes (sometimes realistically, as for seals, sometimes less so, as with jellyfish) indicate the characters’ trustworthiness and affection. Children will likely relate well to this story of getting lost while daydreaming and to the reassurance that kindly adults will look after strays. The book also gives them a chance to learn more about the work of environmentalists and Caribbean sea life.

An appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CaribbeanReads Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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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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