A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams.

ZELDA'S BIG ADVENTURE

Zelda is a hen with a plan: “to be the first chicken in space.”

Zelda has already built her spaceship, planned the experiments she’ll carry out in space, and trained for weightlessness (by suspending herself from a tree limb). Now, all she needs is a little help from her friends. Walter the rooster won’t help with her spacesuit (he doesn’t sew!). Mike is too busy to help with the heat shielding. And Bella the hen does not “do DIY,” so she can’t help with the control panel. Zelda goes it alone; despite some difficulty counting backward at countdown, she blasts off into space! After a successful mission of weighing stardust and counting planets, she returns home to find that her friends claim partial credit for her success. Zelda’s not fazed…in fact, the stars were lonely; she plans to take some company on her next astral adventure. Australian duo Alafaci and McG have crafted a space-age “Little Red Hen” (who is white here), and even those who know the traditional tale will admire Zelda’s pluck and forgiving nature. McG’s burnished illustrations in a muted palette, full of barnyard tech and expressive chickens, pair well with Alafaci’s straightforward text.

A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-66081-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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