A thoughtful tale for engineers young and old.

HOUSE MOUSE

A story about what isn’t yet there…until it’s imagined by an industrious mouse!

It begins with a house, or perhaps with a warm, welcoming flame, or perhaps with the intrepid journey of a mouse who travels over a hill, across a river, and into an asparagus patch to find a home. But there isn’t a home…yet. First the mouse builds a stove around the flame, “to mark the spot where the chilliness wasn’t.” After an escape from a fox, the mouse builds a floor, marking a space “where the fox wouldn’t go.” A storm leads to a roof, and soon mouse has her house. A door is built, and unexpected guests fill the house with warm vegetable soup and friendship. Gentle, straightforward text and onomatopoeia recount the mouse’s efforts to envision what could be before it is there, learning from experience and creating the bones of a home in the empty space of the asparagus patch. Geometric artwork uses lines in all kinds of forms to evoke the stability of home and the uncertainty of travel; the mouse and her friends are simply yet effectively portrayed, conveying a childlike yet classic quality to the illustrations. A primarily earth-toned palette is peppered with tiny, colorful details throughout. The concentric halos around a candle on a deep blue spread are particularly poignant. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A thoughtful tale for engineers young and old. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-286619-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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