A buzzworthy introduction to insects that may get kids outside looking at the bugs.

TURTLE TROUBLE

From the Pipsie, Nature Detective series

In their third outing, Pipsie and her best bud, Alfred Z. Turtle, solve the mystery of what might have caused Alfred to be sticky and smelly and have a red, sore bump on his foot after a morning outing at the park.

After a bath to cure the smelly part of Alfred’s affliction, the duo heads back to the park to retrace Alfred’s steps and try to puzzle out what might have bitten him. Along the way, they come across lots of different insects and an arachnid, Pipsie sharing with Alfred (and readers) cool facts about each. The friends find partial clues everywhere they turn (mosquitoes bite, but Alfred’s foot doesn’t itch, and there’s nothing sticky or stinky by the water) until they finally add up the clues and solve the mystery, which involves three different insects: one for the stinky, one for the sticky, and one for the sore foot. A final spread of fun facts provides more information about five of the species the two encounter, but these don’t include the one responsible for Alfred’s bite, a miss for readers. Also, it states that honeybees collect pollen on their wings, and the beehive is depicted inaccurately. Pale-skinned, dark-haired Pipsie has her magnifying glass and nature notebook ever at the ready in her backpack, prepared for anything Mother Nature presents her with.

A buzzworthy introduction to insects that may get kids outside looking at the bugs. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5099-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

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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