CITY HAWK

THE STORY OF PALE MALE

The year’s second book to shine the spotlight on New York City’s most famous red-tailed hawk provides fun images but misses the narrative mark. McCarthy populates her illustrations with her characteristically pop-eyed cartoon people, here joined by comically round-eyed hawks. The text details the appearance of Pale Male in Manhattan, his romance with Lola and the subsequent building of their nest and the hatching and fledging of their chicks. The avid attention paid to these urban hawks by the city’s birdwatching community receives some attention as well, but aside from some uncertainty about the ability of the chicks to fly across the street to the park (which they do in the middle of the night), there’s no narrative tension to enliven the plot. Inexplicably, the story avoids the stuff-of-legends conflict with the hawk-hating residents of 927 Fifth Avenue that Jeanette Winter chronicles so successfully in The Tale of Pale Male (March 2007). Although this story appears in the lengthy author’s note (along with a “Learn More About Central Park” featurette and a jam-packed bibliography), its curious absence from the body of the text leaves readers with little to care about. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3359-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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