Appealing, accessible and accurate, this is another admirable creation.



With their characteristic design and choice of intriguing details, this prolific author-illustrator pair introduces “nature’s perfect package”: the egg.

An egg-shaped introduction encapsulates the main ideas of this latest offering in a series of titles exploring nature’s wonders. Almost every animal begins life in an egg. Some, like human eggs, are nurtured internally, but many more develop outside. Eggs come in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes, colors and numbers and are tended to in myriad ways or simply strewn, developing on their own. All contain what’s necessary to form and nurture the new creature. Spread by spread readers learn about the range of egg layers, egg sizes, how many are lain and where, egg eaters, egg protection, packaging, carrying, incubation and emergence. A final spread looks inside the eggs of a chicken and alligator as each creature develops over time, in five stages from embryo to hatchling. Text in the upper-left corner of each spread presents the topic. Realistic torn- and cut-paper images set on a plain white background are identified and explained in short paragraphs. The backmatter includes thumbnails and further information about the 54 egg-laying creatures pictured—from slugs and simple animals through insects, spiders, fish, amphibians and birds, plus two mammals (the mongoose and the platypus).

Appealing, accessible and accurate, this is another admirable creation. (additional reading) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-547-95909-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Hee haw.

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...


From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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