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WHAT FLOATS IN A MOAT?

A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons.

Silly meets science in this title inspired by Archimedes’ principle.

Archie (get it?) the goat and Skinny the hen need to deliver three barrels of buttermilk to the queen—a pig who looks like she might have come from the pen of Steig himself—in her moated castle. Rejecting the drawbridge in the name of “Science!” they embark on a process of trial and error to float the barrels across the moat. While this may not be much of an elevator pitch, this story sure does make for a terrific picture-book read, due in large part to the hilarity of Cordell’s watercolor illustrations embellished with pen and ink. Archie first tries to float on a full barrel of buttermilk, but it sinks. Undeterred, he tells Skinny to drink the buttermilk from the second barrel. She does and, not so skinny any longer, heaves the empty barrel with Archie upon it into the water. This one does float, but unsteadily so. The third try is a charm as Skinny drains just half of its buttermilk, creating a seaworthy vessel. The queen pig is none too pleased to have five-sixths of her buttermilk in either the moat or the hen, but it was all “in the name of science,” explains the placid Archie as a bloated Skinny belches her affirmation.

A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9763-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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