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GROUNDHOG'S DAY OFF

Readers will never look at Groundhog Day in quite the same way again.

A groundhog who wants to be appreciated for more than his meteorological skills decides to go on vacation.

Every year, it’s always the same: “Are there going to be six more weeks of winter?! Is spring around the corner?!” People never ask Groundhog about him. So he packs up and heads to the spa, leaving a letter behind to explain himself. The mayor holds auditions for Groundhog’s position, but no animal can match him: among others, Elephant is too big, the nocturnal animals’ schedules are wrong, and “Ostrich got the whole thing backward.” But the auditions do make the TV news, and Groundhog is pleased to hear that his flair, work ethic, and all-around specialness are appreciated after all. He heads home to wide acclaim and loads of questions about himself. Happy, he gives his February forecast and heads into his hole…where Pearlman shatters Groundhog’s peace with a televised announcement that the Easter Bunny has quit. Helquist uses Groundhog’s perspective to show readers just how he is feeling—the scene after he’s shown himself on Groundhog Day, surrounded by litter and utterly alone, is particularly poignant, though the images of him at the spa, cucumbers on his eyes, and the auditioning animals help balance the mood.

Readers will never look at Groundhog Day in quite the same way again. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-6196-3289-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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