This paean to bees is just the ticket for moving kids from concern to comfort

READ REVIEW

THE THING ABOUT BEES

A LOVE LETTER

Larkin delivers a love poem to bees and his children.

“When a bee and a flower love each other very much, a fruit is born.” The playful tone set in this first sentence carries throughout this loosely rhymed book. Following an opening double-page spread about pollination, Larkin acknowledges that “bees can be a bit rude” and that, “worst of all, they do this thing / called sting. / OUCH!” But if they were gone, along with no bee stings there would be no watermelons, mangoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and more. Then he gets personal, reasoning that children share some characteristics with bees, even stinging “when you’re in a bad mood. // But,” crucially, “I never stop / loving / you.” Accompanying the text is distinctive, motion-filled artwork that overlays line drawings with swaths and daubs of color. Using photos of himself and his children as models for his human characters, he presents two yellow-overalls–clad black children who variously look worried, astonished, and delighted. One close-up image, of a honeybee in a strawberry blossom, is wonderfully tactile, little grains of pollen falling gracefully over a ripe, red fruit below. A closing double-page spread introduces three types of bees and three other stinging insects on a scale from “kind” to “kinda mean” along with a few points of “bee safety & etiquette.”

This paean to bees is just the ticket for moving kids from concern to comfort . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9980477-9-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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