Though a dog on the loose on a ferryboat is truly a fairy tale, Walter’s story is a tale well-told.

FERRY TAIL

An energetic, joyful dog finds his true home and family onboard a large ferryboat that conveys cars and people to an island community.

Walter is a large, reddish dog with a white nose and tail, possibly part Irish setter. He freely roams the ferryboat on its daily trip, bringing the newspaper to the gray-bearded captain, listening to the sound of the engine with the ship’s female engineer and tasting the bacon for the male cook. Walter gets along with everyone except the captain’s spoiled cat, Cupcake, who tries to take over Walter’s duties aboard ship. When Walter leaves the ship and tries life on the island, he finds he isn’t welcomed there by anyone, and life on land is strange and unsatisfying for a canine used to life onboard. Cupcake the cat shows up to retrieve the lost dog, and they return to the ferryboat together as friends in a satisfying conclusion. Although the plot is predictable, the text conveys genuine emotion in Walter’s classic search for his true home. A large trim size and appealing illustrations in a variety of formats bring Walter’s antics and the island community to life.

Though a dog on the loose on a ferryboat is truly a fairy tale, Walter’s story is a tale well-told. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-829-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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