This welcome reworking of the author’s earlier Butterfly Counting Book (1998) and board book Butterfly Colors and Counting...

BUTTERFLY COUNTING

An unusual butterfly book introduces facts about the insects, portrays 24 different species, gives the word for “butterfly” in 27 languages other than English, and counts up from zero to 25.

While the numeration provides the organization, this is far more than a counting book. Beginning with the fact that there are no butterflies in Antarctica, the author goes on to surprise readers with a spread of 20 colorful moths, highlighting the confusing similarities between the two species, although not explaining their actual differences. Then the proper count begins, with each page presenting a different species, an interesting fact and a word for “butterfly” in another language, including Mandarin, Finnish, Navajo, Tagalog and sign. From one to 10, each species is also a different solid color; Nos. 11 through 19 are multicolored, and the 20th shows eggs. Then there’s a surprise: 21 different caterpillars. To finish, there are chrysalises and more butterflies. The counting, particularly in the larger groups, takes enough effort to make this interesting to the likely audience. The facts feel arbitrarily presented but they are accurate, and the illustrations, done with colored pencil and digitally manipulated, are colorful and true-to-life. Sadly, there’s no index.

This welcome reworking of the author’s earlier Butterfly Counting Book (1998) and board book Butterfly Colors and Counting (2013) offers learning opportunities galore. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57091-414-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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