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HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE

In a niche that includes elegant, realistic and natural offerings, this is cute.

Kapchinske’s picture-book debut is a fact-toting trip through several food chains.

After a snack of a little green beetle, a snake slithers along: “He sang, ‘Hey diddle diddle—I’m feelin’ fine. / Call me cold-blooded, but I’ve got a spine.’ / A hawk looked down a tweetin’ a tune / and said, ‘I’d like some breakfast soon.’ ” The second food chain consists of a frog and a bass, while the last begins with a caterpillar that is eaten by a lizard and ends with a bobcat. The forced incorporation of so many facts comes off as didactic at times, although they will serve to teach readers about the various species. While the verses sometimes falter in their rhythms, which are based loosely on the titular nursery rhyme, the beat is nonetheless rollicking and will likely have readers and listeners alike tapping their toes. Extensive backmatter includes more information and questions that will deepen children’s understanding of food chains and animal classification and adaptations. Rogers’ digitally illustrated animals are slightly cartoonish with too-bright colors and anthropomorphized expressions and body language. Most offputting, this injects human emotions into what is a natural cycle in the animal world.

In a niche that includes elegant, realistic and natural offerings, this is cute. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60718-130-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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