While there is some child appeal, particularly in the second story, this title is likely to be of most interest to...

LOCOMOTIVE

A Polish children’s book from the 1930s is reissued in English for 21st-century readers.

Backmatter explains that author Tuwim was “asked to write three poems for children,” and the publisher, Przeworski, put them into a single book with illustrations by LeWitt and Him under the title Lokomotywa. The three poems are presented as separate stories: “Locomotive,” about a train and its cargo; “The Turnip,” a cumulative story about a farmer and a succession of characters who try to help him pull an enormous turnip from the ground, which some readers may recognize as the familiar Russian tale; and “The Birds' Radio” (here retitled “The Birds’ Broadcast”), about a group of quarrelsome birds’ “chirping, warbling and squawking.” While the text is rather long, and it seems that much of the poetic achievement is lost in translation, the bright lithographs present an eye-catching book that will likely be of interest to scholars and others interested in early- to mid-20th-century picture-book art. The influence of post-revolutionary Russian children’s book art is especially apparent.

While there is some child appeal, particularly in the second story, this title is likely to be of most interest to historians and scholars of the picture book . (Picture book. 5-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-65097-4

Page Count: 47

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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

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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

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