THE BUZZ ON BEES

WHY ARE THEY DISAPPEARING?

This photo-essay describes the decline of honeybees since 2004, their importance in pollination and the work of beekeepers, sending a chilling message to the very young. Rotner’s photographs are bright and beautiful: happy children, glorious flowers and luscious fruits. The accompanying text, written in simple sentences, has little narrative flow. It opens with a beekeeper’s discovery of empty hives, goes on to describe the role of pollinators, introduces beekeepers and then returns to label Colony Collapse Disorder on a double-page spread contrasting a full hive with an empty one. A list of questions about the decline of honeybees suggests causes; unidentified scientists are shown working on the problem. On a second spread of empty cells the author asks the bigger question, “How healthy is our earth?” following with pages of suggestions for action, websites for follow up and fast facts. The book concludes with profiles of the individuals who served as sources. Older readers will be well served with Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz’s The Hive Detectives (2010); this is less successful at meeting its audience’s needs. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2247-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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