This curious but intriguing pairing of science fields from the publishers of Darcy Pattison and Kathleen Rietz’s Prairie...

SOUNDS OF THE SAVANNA

Over the course of a day, predators and prey roar, bellow, trumpet, cry, squeal, purr, and sometimes sneak quietly through the savanna in this introduction to African animals and the science of sounds.

The nicely rounded narrative begins and ends with the lion family. Activities and sounds of wildebeests, elephants, vervet monkeys, baboons, zebras, spiny mice, and yellow-winged bats are described in a simple text. Also pictured and mentioned in the backmatter are a python and a milky eagle owl. The animals are clearly identifiable in the illustrations (produced digitally with watercolor embellishment), which also reveal the progression of the day, from dawn through nightfall, spread by spread. Some double-page spreads feature pictures on pictures, close-up images set over more expansive scenes of this important habitat. Particularly striking are two spreads showing the dramatic escape of a larger-than–life-size spiny mouse from an attacking owl thanks to the mouse’s tearaway “brittle skin.” The variety of sound words used will please teachers, as will the four pages of backmatter, which include additional explanations, hands-on activities, and a predator/prey quiz. A Spanish-language version is also available.

This curious but intriguing pairing of science fields from the publishers of Darcy Pattison and Kathleen Rietz’s Prairie Storms (2011) and Desert Baths (2012) will be equally welcomed in libraries and classroom collections. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62855-632-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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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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