Amusing enough, but there is little intellectual meat on these bones.

READ REVIEW

BONE BY BONE

COMPARING ANIMAL SKELETONS

An intriguing combination of questions, answers and playful illustrations presents the comparative anatomy of animals, based on their bones, in an original way, with mixed results.

What if you had no bones at all? What would you look like with bones at the end of your spine? What if your hand bones reached your feet? What animal would you look like? The author, a biologist and veterinarian, has taught children’s environmental-education classes as well as college students. Her “what if” questions are right on target for young learners, connecting them to the subject and extending their imaginations. She covers the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates and some skeletal particulars, but this is more a collection of intriguing points than an organized introduction. Unfortunately, the presentation gets in the way of the information. Questions and explanations appear in both a chunky letterpress and hand-lettered–like sans-serif style; answers are in uppercase; this busy typography won’t help fledgling readers. Spookytooth’s illustrations use a diverse group of children to demonstrate major points. These pictures add humor, and some are instructive as well, though others are confusing. Side-by-side human and animal skeletons have major parts labeled; later X-ray views are less meaningful. For organized information, Steve Jenkins’ Bones: Skeletons and How They Work (2010) is a better choice.

Amusing enough, but there is little intellectual meat on these bones. (more about bones and vertebrates, glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8464-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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