IN THE RAINFOREST

This new entry in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series is a Stage 2 title exploring the busy and diverse world of the rain forest.

In a format reminiscent of the Magic Schoolbus books, an adult leader accompanies an African-American boy and a Caucasian girl on a trip into the rain forest, with sidebars, fact boxes, picture captions, diagrams and speech balloons rounding out the information presented in the text. Readers learn how this habitat differs from forests in temperate climates and visit the three levels (and their various plants and animals)—understory, canopy and emergent layer—along with the three characters; don’t forget your climbing harness! Bolded words are defined within the text, and readers are barraged with fascinating facts: Ants make up more than half the insect species found in the rain forest (which explains why they get so many spreads). A labelled diagram shows the interconnectedness of the rain forest’s parts, and two final spreads focus on threats to the world’s rain forests as well as the benefits gained by protecting them. Backmatter invites readers to make a terrarium and lists various places in the U.S. where they can visit rain-forest exhibits. Dominated by greens and browns, Duke’s friendly cartoons effectively communicate the immense variety of plant and animal life found in rain forests and feature cutaway views and close-ups in several spreads. A fascinating and solid introduction. (Informational picture book. 4-8)    

 

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-028259-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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