A brief, illuminating glimpse into Inuit storytelling.

READ REVIEW

GRANDMOTHER PTARMIGAN

Grandma tries to help her little one fall asleep.

The baby bird asks for a story, but Grandma says she has none to tell. The baby keeps asking, however, so finally Grandma obliges. In her story, lemmings want to join them to get warm. “They want to crawl up your back, / under your armpits, / around your neck. / They want to crawl inside.” Clearly the little ptarmigan is uneasy, but Grandma tickles him all over anyway. Frightened, he flies for the first time—away from Grandma. Bereft, Grandma cries, “nauk, nauk.” This is no ordinary bedtime tale but a pourquoi tale that explains why baby ptarmigans fly at a very young age and females cry. Children who are accustomed to cuddling at bedtime may find this storytelling experience a bit unsettling, but in the harsh natural world of the Arctic, it provides an explanation for observed behavior. Co-author Mikkigak is an Inuit elder, storyteller and performer, and the Canadian publisher is Inuit-owned. Non-Inuit readers will probably wish for notes and a pronunciation guide, but as a cultural expression, the book has its own integrity. Leng’s art in browns and blues is lovely, employing short brush strokes that animate both feathers and flight.

A brief, illuminating glimpse into Inuit storytelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-92709-552-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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