ONE SMALL PLACE IN A TREE

Brenner shows young readers two different ways of looking at nature. By the Sea focuses on a tide pool, a place “no bigger than a bathtub,” and invites the reader to examine its occupants closely. When the tide brings in plankton-laden seawater, the mussels and barnacles eat. But then a sea star eats a mussel, an anemone eats a snail, and a hermit crab jumps into the empty snail shell the anemone discarded. Very quickly and simply, readers understand how everything in the pool is related. If something upsets the pool’s equilibrium, “[it] would still be a tide pool, but it would change”—a complicated concept that invites further thought. In a Tree, however, shows how a small space can evolve over a much greater span of time. First a bear scratches a tree; timber beetles burrow into the cut in the bark; woodpeckers feasting on beetles help to create a hole; squirrels move in, then bluebirds. Eventually the tree dies and falls, but the hole remains an animal home. The two share a spare, poetic language, giving just enough information. Leonard’s bright illustrations match the text well—detailed, but not overly so, with a good sense of movement and life. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-688-17180-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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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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