WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMETHING WANTS TO EAT YOU?

The art of camouflage works on several levels here: Jenkins (Big and Little, 1996, etc.) cleverly conceals a factual compendium of 14 animal and insect defenses as a colorful picture book. Predators are depicted in pursuit of prey on each right-hand side of the spread; a flip of the page uncovers the clever escape mechanism employed by the would-be victim, from the bombardier beetle that can spray hot chemicals up to 500 times a second, to the glass snake that conveniently segments its tail. Whether curling up into an armor-plated ball, squirting clouds of ink, or imitating a leaf, the tricksters are described in a couple of sentences that invite further investigation of these survival techniques. Layered cut-paper collage animals are positioned in dramatic stances against textured handmade-paper backgrounds. In a few instances, the black typeface is difficult to discern when it is superimposed on the dark green of leaf or grass. One final question, ``What would you do if something wanted to eat you?'' takes readers into their own cat-and-mouse scenarios. A dashing look at natural escape routes. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-82514-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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MY LUCKY DAY

It’s become predictable, this story of the pig outfoxing the fox, but Kasza’s version does sport his lively art and a measure of dry humor. When a piglet comes knocking on Mr. Fox’s door, the fox can’t believe his luck; he’s not used to delivery service. The piglet is just about to be tucked in the oven, when he suggests a few improvements to Mr. Fox. Wouldn’t he taste better if he were washed first—“Just a thought, Mr. Fox”—and plumped up and perhaps massaged to tenderize the meat? The fox agrees that he would, rushing madly about scrubbing, feeding, and working the piglet’s tissues, and promptly falling into an exhausted swoon. The pig is last seen back in his pen, thumbing through his address book—Mr. Bear, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Coyote—getting ready to work the same ruse on another carnivore. Fun enough, though no self-respecting four-year-old will be very worried about this little porker’s fate. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23874-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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