A clever, if not new, concept with uneven execution.

ROUND

A rhyming glimpse at round shapes in nature.

“Nature all around is round,” begins this exploration of shapes round or partially round in nature, beginning with a tiny bird and ending with the planets in our solar system. The pair of two-word phrases in each illustration, each dyad ending with “round,” rhymes: “Glowing round. / Growing round,” reads the text in a spread that features fireflies encased in rings of lights and a crescent moon. In a spread featuring a frog, the creature hangs on tight to a lily pad caught on a small current (“Cling round”) and then jumps into the water, creating ripples in the water that “Ring round.” Some pairings will prompt discussion more than others, such as an empty nest that is “Nest round” paired with a nest filled with bird eggs that is “Best round.” Children will notice that the shapes featured aren’t all circular in nature; some have merely rounded edges, such as the budding leaves on a tree, raindrops, and clouds. Most phrases are modified nouns, such as “Flake round,” though one is a full sentence (“Make round” for a snowman on the same spread), and some are modified verbs. The primarily earth-toned, uncluttered spreads provide a simplified, close-up look at the natural elements and animals named as round. Readers would be better served by Joyce Sidman’s and Taeeun Yoo’s Round (2017), in which all shapes are circular. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A clever, if not new, concept with uneven execution. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3119-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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