An interesting, contemplative addition to the nature shelf.

READ REVIEW

THE WOLF-BIRDS

A pair of hungry ravens helps wolves hunt during the winter starving time.

Dawson’s first picture book is based on observers’ reports of ravens alerting hunters—both humans and wolves—to potential prey. Her words and pictures reveal the stark circumstances of late winter. The ravens watch a wolf pack chase a buffalo; the buffalo gets away but not without delivering a fatal kick to one of the wolves. The hunt continues until the birds see an injured deer and summon the wolves. This second chase is more successful. “One animal’s life helps many others live.” The spare text is set on acrylic paintings with a vintage look. These stylized images are full of the curves and bold outlines of graffiti art yet at the same time are reminiscent of the work of Dahlov Ipcar. Their abstraction offsets the story’s harsh realism, which may still disturb a sensitive youngster. The colors, shades of brown, red-brown, and gray, suggest the drabness of winter; the action is shown both from a distance and up close in vignettes, full-page scenes, and double-page spreads. Dawson uses body language rather than visible blood to denote the dead. The thoughtful pacing of these illustrations demonstrates this artist’s experience with graphic storytelling. The text is less successful, with elevated, sometimes-awkward language that relies heavily on ellipses and works too hard to tell the story in a lyrical fashion.

An interesting, contemplative addition to the nature shelf. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-054-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more