An engaging, informative introduction.

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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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 first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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