The dichotomy between the anthropomorphized scenes and the realistic ones artfully highlights the divide between the animal...

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THEY JUST KNOW

ANIMAL INSTINCTS

Drawing a line between human and animal behaviors, this debut from Yardi teaches children about instinctual behaviors.

Alternating double-page spreads first show anthropomorphized animals “learning” how to do something and then the reality: spring peeper tadpoles don’t get lessons in leaping at school, and no one has to teach them their iconic song. A turn of the page reveals: “Mother peepers lay a lot of lovely eggs and hop away. Little tadpoles just know what to do, all on their own.” Klein’s artwork is the real draw, though. The anthropomorphized scenes will certainly elicit chuckles from both adult and child readers: a mother sea turtle rocking her baby in a cradle, a baby kingsnake coiled round a teddy bear, a horn shark in a highchair, tiny tadpoles wearing backpacks. Turns of the pages reveal realistic scenes of the animals in their natural habitats. And the final message—animals don’t need toys, help, or hugs, “but you do!”—is one every child will relish hearing. The “For Creative Minds” section in the backmatter delineates instinctual vs. learned behaviors and gives children a chance to determine which are which. A double-page spread then talks about life cycles and metamorphosis and asks readers to match adults and their young.

The dichotomy between the anthropomorphized scenes and the realistic ones artfully highlights the divide between the animal world and the human one. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62855-634-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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