Not natural history by any means, but this slice of (fly) life is beguilingly, infectiously whimsical.

ASTRID THE FLY

Astrid the fly introduces readers to her (huge) family and their home behind the sofa in this Swedish import.

Astrid tells readers how she loves to fly and watch “what’s happening behind the warm window” (the oven) and, most of all, how she loves to eat. Her favorite thing to eat is Danish salami! Once, she ate so much that she fell asleep in the refrigerator—although of course she doesn’t really understand what the refrigerator is. Her aunt tries to school her into sensible behavior with stories of danger, most particularly of the HORRIBLE INHALING MACHINE (young readers will recognize the universality of the vacuum cleaner) that got Uncle Abe, but Astrid is intrepid in her desire for exploration and food. She is pretty cute and, frankly, not very flylike, with her topknot and rosy cheeks. Reds and yellows and a lively black line dominate the ink-and-watercolor illustrations; the pictures look appropriately (for a fly) dashed off but are carefully composed with an eye to pattern and shape. What flies really eat besides foodstuffs children will recognize remains unmentioned, although Astrid gives a nod to changing food choices in the end.

Not natural history by any means, but this slice of (fly) life is beguilingly, infectiously whimsical. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3200-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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