So Many Babies are a few too many.

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SO MANY BABIES

A board-book introduction to animal babies, at least pictorially.

Each page introduces a new animal and its habitat, sometimes giving hints to animal behavior, but it introduces more questions than it answers. The animals look more like cartoons that the real thing, a potential point of confusion. For instance, the elephant that accompanies the text “Babies in jungles” is pale green. Sometimes it is unclear which animal is featured—does “Babies in rivers” refer to the big-eyed beavers clinging to logs or to the school of fish they are eyeing? Worse, “babies in bogs” presents three smiling frogs and a few tadpoles, with no indication that the tadpoles are the babies. The species are not named, so adult readers are left guessing—is that a pile of bears in a cave or some more exotic creature? Readers may not be able to name the ring-tailed lemur or know that sea otters float on their backs, particularly when the drawing of the sea otter gives so few accurate clues. Rhyming text is choppy and forced. After all the cutesy animals, the final page changes the subject from animal babies to a saccharine assurance that “baby, my baby, there's no one like you!”

So Many Babies are a few too many. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0831-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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