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

EGG

NATURE'S PERFECT PACKAGE

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 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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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