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THE MOUSE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

For mouse-loving children and families looking for an alternative to the well-known poem.

A murine version of the classic Christmas poem.

“ ’Twas the night before Christmas, / when all through the house / Not a creature was stirring / …except for one mouse.” A little white mouse clad in a fur-trimmed red suit winks at readers and holds a shushing paw to its mouth. Turner goes on to give “A Visit From St. Nicholas” a mouse-themed spin, casting the reindeer as red and green stag beetles and sending her Santa “through / a crack in the wall” rather than down the chimney. Although she supplies the stag beetles with appropriate names (“On Scatter and Skitter!” urges Santa), curiously, she omits the narrator character from the tale, which gives the proceedings an incomplete air. Readers may be so busy looking at the details in Løvlie’s illustrations they may not feel the absence. She depicts snoozing mouse children in a tiny shoe, a matchbox, and a flour scoop; gives the stag beetles pink cheeks, black button noses, and smiles; and festoons the mouse hole with paper-mouse chains and dried fruit rounds. It’s all extremely cozy but kept from being cloyingly so with a limited palette of muted (rather than forest) green, red, and dark blue; the swooshes of snow Santa leaves in his wake give a bracing, fresh feeling.

For mouse-loving children and families looking for an alternative to the well-known poem. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5495-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sunbird Books

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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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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