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A DOG NAMED HAKU

A HOLIDAY STORY FROM NEPAL

A sweet sojourn in Nepal; though not perfect, it’s nevertheless an important contribution.

Brothers Alu and Bhalu are celebrating Kukur Tihar, a special day to honor dogs during festival time in Nepal.

The two young boys search the streets of Kathmandu for a stray dog to feed, remembering the brave search-and-rescue dogs that saved many lives after earthquakes devastated their country in 2015. Multiaward-winner Engle teams up with her daughter, Nicole Karanjit, and son-in-law, Amish Karanjit (who was born and raised in Nepal), to craft this tale based on a true story from another part of the world. The spare text is interwoven with authentic touches about Nepali family and culture, describing how “families chased away the darkness / by lighting lanterns on doorsteps, / rooftops, / and windowsills” and how the children strive “not to scatter / the rice flour / arranged in dazzling patterns / on the living room floor.” Using a dark palette, Jeyaveeran’s authentic illustrations add another layer of cultural knowledge, showing dark-haired, brown-skinned children and adults wearing traditional Nepali outfits and joyously celebrating the festival. While the resolution to Alu and Bhalu’s search is successful and satisfying, the text may not fully convey to young readers the cultural depth of the brothers’ actions, as they feed their new pet the festival feast meant for the family. The oversimplification of the climax diminishes the impact of this otherwise remarkable story set in another culture.

A sweet sojourn in Nepal; though not perfect, it’s nevertheless an important contribution. (glossary, further reading, activities) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3205-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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