It's super beetle! The life cycle of the ladybug is presented with splashy colored pencil illustrations, which leap off the page. The illustrator heightens the visual contrast by putting the red and black beetle on a bright yellow flower petal and placing the orange and purple larva against a broad green leaf. This dramatic telling, a first picture book by the author/illustrator, will appeal to the lovers of the animated movies Antz and Bug Story as it describes the battle of the bugs, and shows them up close and huge. When the story begins, the coffeecupsized ladybug, is resting on the petal of a black eyed Susan. The ricesized eggs she lays on a leaf hatch into wriggling larva, which scurry away leaving just the one who is the main character. She soon sets to lunch on aphids the size of golf balls. After eating fifteen aphids, the larva splits her skin and emerges as a fierce purpleandorange predator, ready for more meals. Life is not all lunch, however, the larva must escape the menacing ants, and later, the fully developed ladybug, must outwit an inquisitive praying mantis. The author follows the development of the ladybug from egg to adult through brief, but exciting and detailed text. For example, the ladybug secretes a bitter orange fluid from out of her legs to deter the praying mantis. `The praying mantis gets a drop of it in his mouth and is so shocked by the awful taste that he drops his prey immediately.` At last, as winter approaches, the ladybug, finds a hole in a log, a safe place to wait out the winter. The author concludes with more facts about ladybugs. An appealing introduction to a familiar and useful insect made especially suitable for reading aloud because of the accessible text and bright, dramatic illustrations. (Nonfiction 59)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-6058-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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. 29, 2018

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.


From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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