A magical artistic and informational world that readers will delight in visiting again and again.


The author-illustrator team that brought readers into the garden and under the snow (Over and Under the Snow, 2011, etc.) now takes them on a breathtaking journey beneath the calm waters of a pond.

Though the surface of the water seems calm, it is teeming with life, as a small black boy and his mother discover during an afternoon row. This book is another artistic triumph for Messner and Neal, whose perfect marriage of prose and pictures creates a lush, watery world filled with color and brimming with activity. Each double-page spread, done in a soothing palette of greens and blues, reveals the pond to be a vibrant and rich habitat where fish, amphibians, animals, and birds lay eggs, build nests, store food, and otherwise engage in the cycle of life. Each illustration focuses on a creature that lives either above or below the pond’s surface, and the child protagonist’s sense of wonder is mirrored by the author’s evocative prose. The events of the book occur within the space of one day, and as afternoon fades into evening, the yellows of the flowers and pink of the sky give way to night-blue in an arresting symphony of color. Well-researched backmatter provides inquisitive readers with additional information about the creatures they see.

A magical artistic and informational world that readers will delight in visiting again and again. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-4542-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

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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. 29, 2018

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An adorable adventure in cartography.


An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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