An appealing and appropriate addition to the nature shelf in the preschool and early elementary grades.

MR. MCGINTY'S MONARCHS

Mr. McGinty and his dog, Sophie, perform a heroic monarch rescue.

When the monarch caterpillars' host plants on the roadside are cut down, Mr. McGinty gathers the tiny creatures, houses them properly in aquariums, and shares them with schoolchildren who nurture them until they grow into butterflies and can fly away. This simple storyline serves as an introduction to the monarch life cycle for very young readers and listeners. Beginning with endpapers showing the monarch life cycle, a variety of other butterflies, a few children’s drawings, and an artfully placed ticket to a zoo butterfly pavilion, cheerful and detailed illustrations (probably watercolor and ink) enliven the story and add important information. One page shows the well-equipped aquarium (the word “terrarium” is never used). On another, a series of vignettes demonstrates a monarch’s journey from tiny caterpillar to chrysalis to the still-weak, just-emerged butterfly, providing a climactic moment. This is followed by two celebratory scenes: Mr. McGinty, Sophie, the children, and their teachers go to a park to release their now-strong butterflies and a double-page spread is filled with monarchs flying away. Finally, two pages of backmatter clearly and simply explain the relationship between monarchs and their milkweed host plants and the monarch migration. Even this text is aimed at young readers.

An appealing and appropriate addition to the nature shelf in the preschool and early elementary grades. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-612-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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