MEGATOOTH

What’s bigger than Elasmosaurus, has more teeth than Smilodon, and is fiercer than T-rex? It must be Megalodon, the giant ancestor of the great white shark that roamed the ancient seas 50 million years ago eating whales. O’Brien, author of Gigantic: How Big Were the Dinosaurs? (1999) is back with another toothy monster to delight young dinosaur fans. Beginning simply and dramatically, showing one giant creature after another, O’Brien builds to his subject, which comes crashing out of the water and onto a two-paged spread featuring his bloody mouth. Then continuing in this engaging style, he gives Megalodon plenty of room to show off as he looms and threatens and shows plenty of his enormous teeth. In fact, the author notes that the only evidence of Megalodon scientists have discovered to date is a few vertebrae and some large fossilized teeth. Using the size of the teeth of the great white shark as a comparison, some scientists predict the ancient shark was 50 feet long. O’Brien’s double-paged spreads give ample room to compare this monster to more familiar large beasts: a great white shark or Tyrannosaurus rex. In one telling shot, the jaw of the Megalodon surrounds the standing figure of a man, dressed in a snorkel and pink inner tube. It is this simple approach, laden with enormous kid appeal that will make this sail off the shelves. The author may inspire a whole new generation of treasure hunters as he notes in an afterword that giant fossil teeth have been found all over the world, but “the best place to find them is the eastern United States.” For younger readers than Caroline Arnold’s Giant Shark: Megalodon, Prehistoric Super Predator (2000). (timeline, tooth facts) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6214-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

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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