A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers.

WHEN THE WORLD IS DREAMING

The dreams of woodland creatures—and one Little Dreamer’s—take the spotlight in this whimsical exploration of nighttime fantasies.

“What does the Little Snake dream / at the end of the day? / After the wriggling, / the sunning, the play.” An unnamed narrator poses the question as a black-haired, light-brown–skinned girl observes a snake slithering through grass. An answer follows in the next spread: the text shifts into the first person (and the type into one that emulates hand printing) as the snake fantasizes about sailing the skies as a kite’s tail. A pattern soon forms. Using a gentle rhyming scheme, Gray introduces readers to Little Deer, Little Newt, and other creatures in their natural environments before plumbing the depths of their dreams. Delight comes in the shape of the unexpected. For example, Little Turtle’s dream of a Sky Turtle “playing hide-and-seek” stuns in its quiet simplicity. Pak’s watercolor pictures capture the wistful tone during moments like these. Hazy, smeared colors and loose lines reflect the relaxed pace of the story, mitigating the danger-filled undercurrent that occasionally pops up. (The illustration for Little Mouse’s dream of leaving “that cat behind on shore” obscures a strange tension in retrospect.) After each creature shares its dream, the girl must share hers. “What does Little Dreamer dream / at the end of the day?” That question may apply to readers as well.

A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-58262-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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