A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife.

THE ELEPHANT KEEPER

CARING FOR ORPHANED ELEPHANTS IN ZAMBIA

From the CitizenKid series

This picture book offers a fresh perspective on Earth’s largest land mammals.

Following his father’s death, Aaron, a black Zambian boy, takes over his father’s job at the distant Lion’s Lodge to help support his family. One morning, he rescues a baby elephant from drowning in the lodge pool. The keepers from a local elephant orphanage who take custody of the calf invite Aaron to visit. When Aaron faces criticism at home because some consider elephants a dangerous nuisance, Aaron’s mother tells him, “Don’t listen to them….You did the right thing. You don’t just let an animal die.” Aaron visits the orphanage and amazes the keepers when Zambezi, the baby elephant, who had refused to eat, finishes a bottle of milk for Aaron. Thus begins a beautiful friendship and a new career for Aaron. The backmatter features a photograph of the real-life Aaron, who has worked at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery since 2012 and now serves as team leader of the elephant keepers. Double-page informational spreads about elephant biology, their endangered status, the nursery, and more punctuate the beautiful and emotionally charged mixed-media paintings that carry the text-heavy narrative. The first informational spread comes as a surprise because the book reads like fiction, but readers will find them useful for understanding the experiences of Aaron and Bezi.

A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-561-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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