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MY STINKY SUMMER BY S. BUG

From the Nature Diary series

Ew! Here’s an enticing critter children won’t soon forget.

A malodorous insect narrates its autobiography.

A brown marmorated (“veined or streaked like marble,” according to the glossary) stink bug describes its summer life cycle and activities in diary form. While the creature celebrates its birth in early June, having hatched from one of 28 eggs laid on the underside of a leaf, others are less than thrilled. This is partly because S. Bug’s more-vile-than-fragrant aroma protects it from being eaten and threatened by neighbors. Text is minimal in this fact-filled, captivating title. Sentences are concise and witty, capturing the voice of this feisty individualist. Readers will learn much about the smelly insect, including facts about its plant-based diet—which, unhappily, makes it a crop-damaging pest—and how it develops, after several larval stages, into a fully grown winged creature. Throughout, pithy, comically negative points of view about the stink bug are expressed as hand-lettered dialogue by other animals and insects. The book ends with S. Bug’s search for a suitable winter home, which it locates in early October and from which it will emerge the following spring. Appealing colorful illustrations depict natural-world details, rendered in vivid colors. White space and light-colored backgrounds allow kids to focus on S. Bug’s activities and habitat. Illustrated facts about stink bugs appear on the endpapers, which are designed so that no text is covered by the flyleaves.

Ew! Here’s an enticing critter children won’t soon forget. (sources, further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4053-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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