A nice addition to the nature shelf.

GOOD TRICK, WALKING STICK

Stick insects have tricks that make them highly successful creatures.

Designed for reading aloud, Bestor’s two-level text provides an overview of a walking stick’s life. A simple, circular narrative begins in winter, with eggs hidden under the snow, and goes through spring hatching, a summer of community leaf-eating and predator evasion, and autumn egg laying (with or without fertilization); it ends with winter and spring again. Onomatopoeic phrases such as "Munch. Munch," "Drop, plop. Drop," and the titular refrain are printed in extra-large display type. Child readers are sometimes addressed directly in smaller-print paragraphs on each spread. These describe more complex events and use more specific language than the primary text: the way ants hide the eggs, mistaking them for seeds; the exoskeletons these insects shed (molt) as they grow; feet designed for climbing; and defense mechanisms, including camouflage, quaking, autotomy—the loss and replacement of an appendage—and even parthenogenesis. Though walking sticks are sold as exotic pets, the author helpfully suggests admiring them in the natural world instead. The stylish, probably computer-generated art resembles work done with cut paper; stylized images of the insects, the branches, leaves, berries, and flowers around them, and the ground below are set on a white background for each spread. Elements from these images make up the endpapers.

A nice addition to the nature shelf. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-943-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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Chilling in the best ways.

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CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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