This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of...

A SECRET KEEPS

Chall employs alliteration and rhyme to lyrically portray a young boy’s quiet adventure on his grandparents’ farm.

After a car trip that lasts “two sleeps,” the boy is eager to find the secret his Grampa has promised in this bucolic landscape. He questions his grandparents and the animals during a campfire, a henhouse visit and a cornfield trek. At bedtime the moon inspires him to slip outside. Under the moonlight he fancies himself a pirate going aboard a galleon. “Where is the secret treasure?” “I find the ladder, / take a breath, / then climb up to the loft. / Shhhh, the pirate hushes. / Then something brushes, / something soft.” Astute readers will already know the answer from a foreshadowed “mew.” It is the interplay between the author’s poetic language and the lush illustrations Solomon provides that elevates the story from the usual new-pet fare. A mix of various paints and collage creates dreamy settings rooted with sharp details. On a pivotal spread, watery deep-blue barn planks bleed together while the finely detailed straw focuses readers’ attention (and the boy’s) to the destination of his surprise. “Finders, keepers” does apply.

This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of all kinds—those to keep, discover and share. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5593-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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