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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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