From a skilled team, another intriguing invitation to explore the animal world.

CREATURE FEATURES

25 ANIMALS EXPLAIN WHY THEY LOOK THE WAY THEY DO

Noses and teeth, horns and beaks, tusks and frills—odd, silly and sometimes scary-looking animal features help them survive.

Jenkins and Page have chosen 25 animals from around the world to tell readers how this works. The presentation of these adaptations gives the artist great scope to show off the remarkable images he can create out of cut and torn papers. A single animal head stares out from most pages. The eyes pop, and the curious features are prominent in these striking images, set on solid-colored backgrounds. The informational text is introduced with a question: “Dear hamster: Why are your cheeks so fat?” The voice of the animal answers: “That’s not fat—it’s my dinner.” Feathers can threaten predators or direct sound; feathery appendages on an axolotl are actually gills. A carrion-eating vulture stays clean without feathers on its face. A blobfish out of water is squished by gravity; a puffed-up puffer fish is hard to swallow. The question-and-answer approach draws readers in, offering room for surprise and a child’s own theories. The last page shows all 25 creatures (plus an adult human) in silhouette and to scale, noting what each eats. Maps show where on various continents or in which oceans each can be found.

From a skilled team, another intriguing invitation to explore the animal world. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-23351-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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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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