Though at first glance these look like preschool fare, they are eye-openers for any young readers who think their drinking...



Small children explore water cycles in four thematically related but independent minibooks.

The individual titles themselves don’t always tell the tale. In “Where Does Wee-Wee Come from, Mum?” and “Where Does Wee-Wee Go to, Mum?” a child’s rhymed queries to a succession of adults lead him back along the water line from home to clouds and ocean, then from his “pottie” through sewers to a purification plant and back around. In contrast, “What Can We Do with Our Poo, Mum?” and “Why Is There No More Water, Mum?” shift the setting to an African village, where one lad learns that his drinking water is “full of smelly dirt” thanks to seepage from local garbage dumps, and another follows his mother on her daily trek to a distant tap because there is no nearby well. Sprightly background music, plus every screen’s touch-activated sighs, chuckles or small movements add further life to the bright, elementally simple art. A reference to the Water Board and other language point to the stories’ European origins, but most of the information is applicable or understandable on this side of the Atlantic—and if it’s startling to hear dialogue in the latter pair of tales voiced by an adult with a Scottish accent, the optional audio, particularly the child’s parts, are read throughout with engaging vivacity.

Though at first glance these look like preschool fare, they are eye-openers for any young readers who think their drinking and waste water appear and vanish by magic. (iPad informational app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Mind the Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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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 Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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