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KITS, CUBS, AND CALVES

AN ARCTIC SUMMER

An information-rich tale of reciprocity between Arctic families and the natural world.

A curious girl named Akuluk visits her family in Nunavut to learn the language and life ways of her ancestors.

When Akuluk arrives at her aunt and uncle’s on a solo trip to visit her northern relatives, she also meets her aunt’s new puppies, a litter destined to become sled dogs in the Arctic. She goes to bed, eager for morning, when she will head out into the Arctic Ocean on her uncle’s boat. Bouncing across the waves toward her family’s old campground, she and her relatives see an orphaned beluga taken in by a nearby pod. At every turn, Akuluk learns about the natural world by listening to oral histories, making observations about different species, and using modern technology. Her uncle teaches her about the relationship between polar bears and foxes, and when she returns home, she is surprised by a souvenir on her bed. While the plot feels a bit buried by a great deal of cultural and environmental information, the book will appeal to children who are interested in earth sciences. The story’s pacing is meandering and dense, but the illustrations help by capturing the dynamic northern world with realistic colors and excellent details. An Inuktitut dictionary and pronunciation guide round out this book for older children. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.2% of actual size.)

An information-rich tale of reciprocity between Arctic families and the natural world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77227-274-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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