All in all, a delightfully readable and informative wrendition.

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THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT

A familiar cumulative rhyme pattern here describes the activities of a pair of wrens from nest construction through incubation and hatching of eggs to the fledging of their offspring.

Nesting birds are a popular picture-book subject, but this appreciative account stands out both for its descriptive language and its evocative illustrations. Those reading aloud will appreciate the regular rhythm, intriguing vocabulary, and deft turns of phrase. Not only does Sonenshine smoothly introduce specific words for the growing chicks (“hatchlings,” “nestlings,” “fledglings,” all clear in context and additionally defined in a glossary at the end), she also uses engaging adjectives: “reptilian charm,” “persnickety burr,” “mirthful song.” There is interesting and appropriate imagery as well: “twigs…cradle the nest,” which will be lined with “moss, softer than suede.” Hunter uses ink and colored pencils on various shades of colored paper to illustrate the process. From vignettes to double-page spreads, these scenes focus on the wrens but also include other animals for observant readers to find; a final spread shows a mouse climbing into the now-empty nest. Following the pattern of the nursery rhyme, the author uses Wren as a proper noun in the repeated phrase “the nest that Wren built,” but in a final page of appended facts she makes clear that both the male and the female are involved in the various steps of the nest-building process.

All in all, a delightfully readable and informative wrendition. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0153-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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