Sure to become a standard go-to for elementary teachers and gardeners alike, this is bound to spark some backyard...

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SECRETS OF THE GARDEN

FOOD CHAINS AND THE FOOD WEB IN OUR BACKYARD

Zoehfeld’s latest is a wonderfully informative and enjoyable journey through one family’s backyard garden, from spring planting to fall harvest.

Covering a dazzling array of topics, the author still manages to hold onto a story line that will draw readers in and allow them to experience both the good and the bad right along with narrator Alice. They will wait for the seeds to sprout and worry along with Alice about the nibbles that are missing from a few plants. Taking some time to be quiet in the garden, Alice discovers that it is home to many different animals, some beneficial and some not, and that the garden plants are the beginnings of many food chains, all interconnected in a web. Autumn sees the family putting up their vegetables so that they can enjoy the harvest throughout the winter, while they dream and plan their next garden. The text comes alive through Lamont’s pen-and-watercolor illustrations, which reinforce the learning while entertaining at the same time—the humans are not the only ones doing the educating. A funny pair of chickens appears throughout, providing more in-depth information about lots of topics, including photosynthesis, composting, common garden insects, food chains and the parts of the plants that people eat.

Sure to become a standard go-to for elementary teachers and gardeners alike, this is bound to spark some backyard explorations. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-517-70990-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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