“Are you a ladybug? If you are, your parents look like this, and they eat aphids.” So begins a charming little book from the Backyard Books series (Are You a Snail?, not reviewed) that documents the amazing life cycle of the common ladybug. Throughout, Humphries engages the viewer's imagination with clear, close-up illustrations, done in soft watercolors, of beetles from egg to adult. The text invites the listener to be part of the story, growing inside an egg, hatching as a strange larva, resting in the hard, shell-like pupa, and finally emerging complete with wings, spots, and a bright red coat. “Congratulations, you're a ladybug.” With tongue in cheek, the author explains that if your parents look like humans, you are not a ladybug, “You are a human child.” And advises, “Your skin will not split as you grow. You can't fly. It is very unlikely that you are red with black dots.” The author concludes with facts about ladybugs; for example, “a ladybug can eat about 70 aphids a day.” The titles in this series have shiny board covers, glossy paper, a modest price, small size and a great deal of appeal. For reading aloud or reading alone, preschool and early childhood children will find these young information books delightful. (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7534-5241-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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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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