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NEVER, EVER SHOUT IN A ZOO

Oddly misguided work from a usually reliable illustrator sinks this cautionary monologue, written in animated rhymed prose, about the perils of startling wild animals. “Never, EVER shout in a zoo . . . because if you do . . . anything might happen. And don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Wilson starts out—but the small wail a child emits after dropping her ice cream cone excites disproportionately wild flight from a grizzly bear and a moose, both of whom are described, but not depicted, as having bad attitudes. Then gorillas join in by hopping over the conveniently low wall that is their only restraint, freeing all the other animals, and locking up the zoo’s four human visitors in a cage that proceeds as if by magic to melt away to set the stage for a contrived final joke. Young viewers might enjoy seeing zoo animals running about and laughing in triumph, but the art and text are too insecurely connected to make any sort of whole. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-98564-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2004

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WHERE DO FROGS COME FROM?

The lifecycle of the frog is succinctly summarized in this easy reader for children reading at the late first-grade level. In just one or two sentences per page, Vern details the amazing metamorphosis of the frog from egg to tadpole to adult, even injecting a little humor despite the tight word count. (“Watch out fly! Mmmm!) Large, full-color photographs on white backgrounds clearly illustrate each phase of development. Without any mention of laying eggs or fertilization, the title might be a bit misleading, but the development from black dot egg to full-grown frog is fascinating. A simple chart of the three main lifecycle steps is also included. Lifecycles are part of the standard curriculum in the early elementary grades, and this will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries, both for its informational value and as an easy reader. (Nonfiction/easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216304-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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