For fostering nature awareness, this is a welcome companion to the author’s previous titles about noisy bugs and noisy frogs.



A say-along, sing-along invitation introduces the art of birding by ear through simple, recognizable bird songs and sounds and, mostly, familiar birds.

From the “Cheery up? Cheerio!” of the robin to the “tap, tap, tap” of the downy woodpecker, each spread includes a common phonetic description of a bird’s sound (“Oh Sweet Canada”; “Who cooks for you”; “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee”) and where and when the bird might be found. Spare illustrations accurately show the birds and something of their environments: a yellow warbler on a cattail, a mallard in a pond, a house sparrow on a brick wall. Many of the birds are familiar daytime visitors to backyards and parks; young readers are less likely to encounter nocturnal singers like the barred owl, whip-poor-will and woodcock. A few are specifically northern or eastern. The Anna’s hummingbird is only found on the Pacific coast, but its sound and appearance are not too unlike its eastern ruby-throated counterpart. Further information is included in the backmatter, where readers will find a description of the male woodcocks’ dance and the advice to “pinch your nose shut” while imitating the call of the white-breasted nuthatch. There are also suggestions for other birding activities.

For fostering nature awareness, this is a welcome companion to the author’s previous titles about noisy bugs and noisy frogs. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58469-513-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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