Light on both nature and mystery, though this might be just the thing to lure young readers away from their screens and into...


From the Pipsie, Nature Detective series

In their second adventure (The Disappearing Caterpillar, 2015), Pipsie and her sidekick/best friend, Alfred Z. Turtle, are on a school trip to the park.

Equipped with cameras to record each of the “Seven Wonders of Nature!” on their scavenger-hunt list, the pairs head out, determined to be first to find everything. But Pipsie and Alfred’s excitement is dimmed by a lunchnapper. Who is the thief? And will Alfred be able to focus on the mystery over the loud growling of his belly? The duo looks high and low, finding all the items on the list and sprinkling some facts about the animals and signs they encounter along the way. And Alfred’s selfie turns out to reveal the thief as well as capturing their “favorite wonder”—Alfred. The award goes to the twins, though, as team members can’t be scavenger-hunt items. They take the loss well, pleased to make yet another mystery history. Backmatter gives a few more facts about the animals they see. Bishop’s bright illustrations are reminiscent of television cartoons. Pipsie and the park ranger are dressed remarkably similarly, and young nature detectives will endeavor to equip themselves as Pipsie does, backpack, nature notebook, and magnifying glass at the ready. Pipsie is Asian, the ranger appears to be African-American, and her classmates are fairly diverse.

Light on both nature and mystery, though this might be just the thing to lure young readers away from their screens and into the great outdoors. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5061-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.


From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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