A useful introduction to citizen science.

MOONLIGHT CRAB COUNT

On a late spring night under a full moon, Leena, her mother, and her dog count horseshoe crabs on an island beach.

Simply written in short paragraphs, this slim text is long on information if short on excitement. Horseshoe crabs (not true crabs but related to spiders) swarm up beaches along the Atlantic coast to lay eggs in the sand in spring. Millions of migrating shorebirds, including endangered red knots, time their visits to these beaches to feast on the eggs. Humans use the blood of horseshoe crabs to test medicine. The state of the species is important, and citizen scientists like Leena and her mother are deployed to estimate the crab population by counting individuals in a designated area. The authors recount Leena’s experience: a short boat trip, recording time and temperature, looking carefully at an individual crab, getting her dog to wait patiently, and counting while her mother tallies. Jones’ digital paintings resemble animated films; she makes particular use of the spotlight effects of the moonlight. Black-haired Leena and her mother might be of South Asian heritage like the scientist co-author. Four pages of backmatter add helpful information. This story leaves readers with less of a sense of the wonder of this remarkable spring event than Lisa Kahn Schnell and Alan Marks’ High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs (2015) but is more personal. Bat Count, by Anna Forrester and illustrated by Susan Detweiler, publishes simultaneously and features a black family engaging in similar citizen science on their farm.

A useful introduction to citizen science. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62855-9309

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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