A good story, perfect for bird lovers and likely to entice the uninitiated.

RUBY'S BIRDS

A young girl learns how to bird-watch from her neighbor, then teaches her family.

Ruby, a black girl with afro puffs and a missing front tooth, likes to spice things up when it’s “too quiet” at home. When her neighbor, Eva, hears Ruby making noise, she invites Ruby to the park—Central Park. When they get to the woods there, Eva is quiet, looking up, using binoculars, frozen—but smiling. Ruby starts singing again, and a frustrated Eva sits her down to tell her about the golden-winged warbler she was looking at, a bird she’d only seen back home in Costa Rica. They try to find him again, staying quiet and paying attention. On Sunday, Ruby begs her family to go to Central Park during their regular family time. She leads them into the woods and shows them how to watch, quiet and still. Her efforts are rewarded when she sees a warbler. Dávila’s illustrations, done with the abundant green and brown of nature and splashes of colorful clothing against ample white space, depict caring relationships and communities. With a bird on each spread and a key in the back, it serves as a Where’s Waldo–type introduction to birding guides, one readers can return to again and again. A bird poster and an endnote addressed to children round out the package.

A good story, perfect for bird lovers and likely to entice the uninitiated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943645-33-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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