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

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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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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