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A VERY LATE STORY

A playful, self-aware picture book that has a lot of read-aloud potential.

“Once upon a time, there was a blank page,” begins this picture book, with black type set on a white double-page spread.

On the very next double-page spread, five vaguely animallike characters in solid colors appear. Although no one knows “how they got there,” or even why, four of the five characters assume that the otherwise empty page means that they are in a book and that they need to wait for a story to begin. When the fifth character, a pink rabbit with a blue backpack, suggests they play, the others shush the rabbit, saying, “Can’t you see we’re busy?” and “There isn’t time to play.” While these four characters wait politely for the story to arrive on the recto, the pink rabbit begins to draw on the verso. Comedy ensues: The pink rabbit draws a dinosaur, a treehouse, and penguins in a hot air balloon—among other things—on the verso, while the four other characters (facing away from the verso) politely wait for the story to start. (“In the old days stories used to arrive on time,” one sighs.) Coppo’s simple storyline is reminiscent of (a slightly less absurd) Waiting for Godot; the pink rabbit’s innovative, crayon-based illustrations reinforce the importance of creating your own stories rather than waiting for them to happen.

A playful, self-aware picture book that has a lot of read-aloud potential. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-66-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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