An engaging, informative introduction.

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BIRD COUNT

A young citizen scientist helps count birds for the Christmas Bird Count, a hemispherewide event run by the National Audubon Society.

On a snowy winter morning, Ava and her mother bundle up to spend their day driving and walking around through varying habitats to count birds in the area designated to them by their local organizer. This year, Ava’s old enough to take the tally, which, in a clever design feature, runs along the side of each spread. Count guidelines are smoothly worked into Richmond’s narrative: Count every bird you see or hear; make sure at least two people see or hear it; don’t count any bird more than once. She even explains how a tally is marked. The birds, familiar to residents of eastern and central North America, are faithfully shown in context in Coleman’s digital paintings. Ava and her mother have light brown skin, and Ava’s hair is lighter and fluffier than her mother’s straight, black locks; team leader Big Al presents white. The author builds suspense by including Ava’s hope to see a raven again—a bird she saw two years ago but not on last year’s count. The story includes common frustrations: birds only one person sees and birds that were probably counted already. Their final tally—24 species, from great horned owl in the early morning to the longed-for raven at dusk—is quite respectable, and more about each featured species appears in the backmatter.

An engaging, informative introduction. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-954-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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