Silly fun! (Pass it on.) (Picture book. 4-7)

TELEPHONE

Barnett and Corace set up an absurdist version of the old “pass it on” game of Telephone, siting it quite literally—along a line of birds on a wire.

An aproned pigeon with a steaming deep-dish pie tells a baseball bat–toting young cardinal: “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” The cardinal translates the message to a goose in a pilot’s cap and goggles: “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.” The goose tells a feather-dusting ostrich in a French maid’s get-up, “Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers.” The maid interprets, “Tell Peter: Put your wet socks in the dryer.” And so it goes, with seven more birds relaying the message with new twists that reflect their respective avocations, from rock star to firefighter. That seventh fowl, a certifiably paranoid chicken, conveys to an unruffled owl a message that wildly mixes up all of the previous ones: “Tell Peter: There’s a giant monster lobster named Homer! / He smells like socks and he breathes red fire! / …and he’s coming to this wire! / Tell Peter to fly! / …He’s too young to be / somebody’s dinner!” Corace cleverly outfits her mixed-media birds with accoutrements including an electric guitar, cameras, books and—for Peter and his baseball teammates—bubble gum. The sage, bookish owl gets the message right, and Peter, ostensibly, his dinner.

Silly fun! (Pass it on.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1023-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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