NEVER SMILE AT A MONKEY

Judi Barrett may have cautioned readers to Never Take a Shark to the Dentist (illustrated by John Nickle, 2008), and Jean Conder Soule’s sage advice to Never Tease a Weasel (illustrated by George Booth, 1964, 2007) has been passed on for generations. However, Jenkins’s current list of instructions are for the more practical and realistic explorer. That is, if one happens to stumble upon a cassowary or a blue-ringed octopus. Eighteen alliterative rules showcase the dangerous defense mechanisms of animals found in the wild. Jenkins warns readers to “never pet a platypus,” “never harass a hippopotamus” and, true to the title, “never smile at a monkey”—a Rhesus monkey to be precise. Baring teeth can be seen as an aggressive gesture and the monkey may attack. Illustrated with the author’s trademark ingenious paper collage, the animals look serene and unassuming, as is often the case in nature. But turn to the detailed endnotes, and jaws and claws are out with a vengeance. Another stunning environmental lesson from an aficionado of animal behavior. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-96620-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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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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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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