WHAT’S NEW AT THE ZOO

On a visit to the zoo, a young boy counts the animal babies and parents in each enclosure, the accompanying rhyme encouraging readers to do the math along with him. “Two tiny peachicks / gather round peahen. / Add one papa peacock. / How many in the pen?” Slade slyly sneaks in some great vocabulary, working the animal baby names into each verse. Equations appear on the corner of each page. Waites provides plenty of details—the borders of each spread are elaborately decorated, while the illustrations arrange the animals naturally (if rather stiffly), resulting in some challenges in spotting each critter. A final spread encourages readers to count how many animals they saw in all at the zoo. Backmatter teaches two methods for adding all the numbers, a section about fact families and a matching game wherein readers can test their memories of baby names against some paragraphs of information about each animal’s development. The solid math and informative backmatter make this a worthwhile addition to libraries and math programs. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-934359-93-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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