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SECRET LIFE OF A TIGER

Most children will recognize the tiger as an unreliable narrator and enjoy the silliness of his assertions.

After admitting to readers that he recently bit, then swallowed whole, an apparently human explorer, a tiger insists that he’s really a great guy.

The tiger is reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera’s funny, anthropomorphic felines. At the beginning, a double-page spread of lush, colorful jungle flora—and a few small fauna—backgrounds the tiger, whose relaxed form is draped over a tree limb as he dozes. The text, and bold, white lettering, addresses readers: “Hey! Look who we’ve spotted. He’s big and stripy, with a mouth full of sharp, white teeth. Do you know who he is?” After affirming readers’ indisputable guess, the text continues, mentioning that the tiger is still asleep but will soon awaken. After this, most of the text is Tiger’s monologue to the readers. The important exception is a double-page series of vignettes that posit readers’ assertions about real tiger behavior (“He’ll sneak up on you!”). The tiger tries to dispute these, until he admits to the devoured-explorer accusation. His ridiculous insistence that he eats his prey “with love” sets up the next pages, in which hilarious artwork shows him, among other things, preparing fruit salad for a baby elephant, styling hair for baboons, and designing a Coliseum-like anthill for some local pismires.

Most children will recognize the tiger as an unreliable narrator and enjoy the silliness of his assertions. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68297-154-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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