Both too complicated and too simple at the same time.

MAMA MONARCH

Rhyming text follows a monarch butterfly’s migration from Mexico to the Great Lakes.

The couplets work. The poetic images are effective and evocative. But this abbreviated overview will confuse rather than enlighten very young children. The life cycle of the butterfly, that they are threatened, and how people can help them survive are hinted at but not explained. Scientific background printed in a tiny font is on the back cover. A simplified map—a concept that’s far more advanced than the rest of the text, which is mostly an enumeration of flowers—on the second page shows only the northern migration through the Midwest. Western swarms, the southbound route, and sites of winter roosts are not shown. Instead the text describes the flowering plants that provide nutrients for the monarch’s trip. Asters, thistle, a generic “vine,” sunflowers, dill, and clover are mentioned before the monarch finds a “welcome home” on milkweed. But explaining that she needs milkweed on which to lay her eggs is left to the adult sharing the reading experience, and the seasonality of the flowers is jumbled. The colorful blossoms and the monarch’s bright orange-and-black wing pattern stand out against sky-blue backgrounds. Reducing the complex and awe-inspiring process of monarch migration to pretty pictures and sweet words leaves out too much and suggests the topic is best left till readers are older.

Both too complicated and too simple at the same time. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-936669-81-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

more