Feathered friends of many varieties adorn this charming volume that evokes bygone times of unfettered outdoor play and...

THE KING OF THE BIRDS

Readers with a taste for the quirky will flock to this tale inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s love of peafowl.

In rural Georgia, little Flannery trains her chicken to walk backward, earning the duo a few moments in the spotlight and awakening in the child a taste for more excitement. An ever expanding assortment of feathered friends ensues, each individual bird delightfully expressive thanks to Nelson’s masterful collage illustrations in muted retro tones. A mail-order peacock is the seemingly inevitable crowning addition to this collection, but his coy reluctance to display his tail feathers demands creative problem-solving on the part of his young mistress. Books for young people about famous individuals whose work they cannot yet appreciate sometimes fall flat; in this case, the unexpected antics of birds and child sustain interest whether O’Connor’s name is familiar to readers or not. However, the book would have benefitted from more detailed biographical and source information than the brief concluding note (for example, no mention is made of O’Connor’s essay “King of the Birds,” which details her avian adventures).

Feathered friends of many varieties adorn this charming volume that evokes bygone times of unfettered outdoor play and highlights a little-known episode in the life of a remarkable woman, but the peacock truly rules the roost. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-851-8

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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