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ONE NORTH STAR

A COUNTING BOOK

A bright, populous countdown for nature lovers, Midwestern or otherwise.

A cumulative tally of flora and fauna in Minnesota—the North Star State.

Bowen’s luminous painted woodcuts, based on designs by Prange, depict 10 northern biomes at sundry times of day and year. The residents of each are different, from an opening aerial glimpse of one moose browsing near a rocky Great Lakes beach followed by two brown bats in a limestone cave beneath one soaring rough-legged hawk to views of 10 teals, nine showy goldenrods, eight milkweed pods, seven Canada geese, and other sights common to a broad tallgrass prairie—all, as the refrain goes, “under one north star.” After a pointed reminder about one final resident—“You live here, too,” showing light-skinned figures at a campfire—Root closes with brief nature notes on the featured plants and animals, plus directions for finding Polaris in the night sky. Despite a patterned format, Root’s not-particularly-rhythmic text isn’t as sonically pleasing as her own Plant a Pocket of Prairie, also illustrated by Bowen (2014), or Donna M. Bateman’s Out on the Prairie, illustrated by Susan Swan (2012), but as befits the various settings, the wild cast is considerably more diverse.

A bright, populous countdown for nature lovers, Midwestern or otherwise. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8166-5063-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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