Good for browsing—with the potential for launching readers into further investigation.




Tackling the hows and whys of six kinds of animal movement, Jenkins and Page present 46 creatures in paper collages against crisp white backgrounds.

The format is clean and simple. A double-page spread introduces a type of movement and depicts a single animal. A cogent paragraph provides reasons for the adaptation. A common octopus is shown walking on the seafloor on two of its eight legs. Walking “doesn’t take a lot of energy, and the slow pace makes it easy to watch for food or danger.” The next spread presents six walkers—some of them surprising. The red-lipped batfish and sea pig also walk on the seafloor. A fishing spider can walk on water’s surface, and a red kangaroo uses its tail as “a fifth leg.” The narrative section about “flying” animals might more properly have been termed “gliding.” The text does distinguish between “true fliers” and “gliders”—animals that “sail through the air, but only for a limited distance.” However, only one of the section’s seven animals (the rhinoceros beetle) is capable of true flight, and common names like “flying snake,” “flying frog,” and “flying fish” further muddy the concept. Layered papers—cut, torn, and precisely chosen for color and texture—form creatures and occasional bits of habitat.

Good for browsing—with the potential for launching readers into further investigation. (glossary, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-63090-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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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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