Pringle inks another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world.

OCTOPUSES!

STRANGE AND WONDERFUL

From the Strange and Wonderful series

A veteran science writer introduces the most intelligent invertebrate of all, the octopus, master of camouflage.

These shape-changing, ink-squirting, ocean-dwelling cephalopods are “strange and wonderful” in many ways. Their lives are short, culminating in a one-time mating after which neither adult will eat, though the female stays alive to guard her eggs. In captivity, they reveal particular personalities and surprising intelligence. The author covers the basics of size and shape, habitat, feeding, relations with humans, survival mechanisms and reproduction in a smooth narrative that flows from page to page, carrying readers along. Like most titles in the Strange and Wonderful series, this inviting introduction is graced with Henderson’s detailed and accurate watercolor illustrations. A spread describing octopus relatives reinforces the distance among their connections, showing a variety of hard-shelled mollusks on the left-hand page and the octopuses’ closest kin—the nautiluses, cuttlefish and squids—on the right. Another double-page spread asks readers to find six octopuses camouflaged in various ways on a reefscape. (Answers are in back.) Even the octopus on the back cover is not obvious at first look. A glossary, index and suggestions for further reading and Web research conclude this stellar example of nonfiction for middle-grade readers.

Pringle inks another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59078-928-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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