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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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