Pairing a lilting text and culturally resonant illustrations, this striking work soars.

LITTLE BIRD'S DAY

Little Bird responds to cues from Sun, Dusk, Moon, and others as natural elements guide a day of activities.

Aboriginal author Morgan, a member of the Palyku people in Western Australia, presents a beautifully cadenced call-and-response narrative voiced by Little Bird and the natural forces that propel its behavior. “Here comes Rain, / falling and splashing. / Time to bathe, Little Bird, / time to sparkle with freshness. // I flutter with Rain to wash my fuzzy feathers.” Little Bird, rising with Sun, sings “to wake the lazy sleepers.” It soars with Wind to reach and feed on a tree’s “crimson blossoms.” Dusk, “gliding and sighing,” induces Little Bird “to join a nightfall roost.” And full Moon, “glowing and whispering,” signals that it’s “Time to rest, Little Bird, / time to settle with your family.” Illustrator Malibirr, a Yolŋu artist from the Aboriginal Ganalbingu clan, uses traditional earth tones, crosshatching, and elements from clan songlines and stories to distinguish his engrossing illustrations, worked in acrylic paint on toned paper. He depicts animals from his native Arnhem Land region, from water buffalo and dingo to echidna and freshwater prawn; an illustrated key challenges readers to find all 10. As Little Bird roosts with its family, it dreams of “flying among the stars.” The dark sky, spattered with thousands of starlit specks, reveals Little Bird’s shadowy silhouette in its dreamed flight.

Pairing a lilting text and culturally resonant illustrations, this striking work soars. (editorial note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73622-646-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Dot Kids Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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