An uneven, though potentially engaging, offering.

READ REVIEW

ANCIENT ANIMALS

TERROR BIRD

Potentially high-interest nonfiction content is obscured by missed opportunities for collaboration between art and text in this early reader.

Although the text immediately establishes the temporal and physical setting (“This is South American fifteen million years ago”), ensuing pages fail to clarify the introduction of the book’s subject, a now-extinct predatory bird. A frontmatter note indicates “The terror bird featured in this book is Kelenken guillermoi, a seven-foot-tall predator that lived about fifteen million years ago,” but if readers miss this key notation, they may flounder as they read about the eponymous terror bird’s predatory ways. The text intersperses facts within imagined hunting scenes, but the art fails to make the most of the descriptions. For example, the fourth page of text tells readers that “There were many kinds of terror birds. The smallest was the size of an eagle. A large one could be the size of a basketball hoop.” The accompanying picture shows two prehistoric birds labeled Brontornis and Psilopterus, and although they contrast greatly in size, they are set against an entirely white page, so there is no indication of scale to match the text. A more successful spread compares the role of these top predators with those that exist today, such as sharks, wolves and tigers.

An uneven, though potentially engaging, offering. (resources) (Informational early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58089-398-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.

PIG THE TOURIST

From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more