Eye-catching and lyrical.

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OSTRICH AND LARK

When does an ostrich come into his own?

Ostrich and Lark, two bosom buddies, travel through the Kalahari Desert, interacting with the birds, insects and animals of the southern African veld. Each one makes its individual sound, together singing “their rain-shower jazz.” That is, everyone except Ostrich. But as the minimal story ends, Ostrich finally booms out a “TWOO-WOO-WOOOT.” It is a sound “part lion’s roar, / part foghorn, / part old man trumpeting into his handkerchief.” The language is spare, like the land it describes. It has the flavor of folklore, but this is an original story that Nelson has created to complement the paintings made by !Kung San people participating in the Kuru Art Project of Botswana. The San people were traditional hunter-gatherers, but development has forced them into the modern economy. The author’s royalties will go to the Project, part of an income-generating group of programs. The cause is worthy, and the vibrantly colored, naive oil paintings, bordered uniformly with a broad stripe with a zigzag line in a contrasting hue, are bold and attractive. The message is clear: Ostrich finds “his voice at last, / his own beauty, / his big, terrific self.” However, there is no precipitating reason for this change. Does his voice come to him as a matter of maturity? While the story is not fully satisfying, the book deserves an audience for its successful portrayal of the natural world of the Kalahari.

Eye-catching and lyrical. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-702-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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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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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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