Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo.

SLOTH TO THE RESCUE

When a girl leaves her school project at the zoo, it’s up to Sloth and his faster-moving friends to deliver the notebook back to her.

Patti’s been spending her summer working on a set of drawings to turn in at the beginning of school. Sloth, who looks like a fuzzy gray log with an expressive, wide face, adores Patti, who, like Sloth, never seems in any rush. When Sloth notices she’s left her notebook, he calls to action Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot to give him some assistance. Slowly, of course: “Let’s. go. on. a. field. trip…” he suggests. Shirtliffe cleverly assigns tasks according to the animals’ strengths. When they arrive at Patti’s school, Peccary is great at lining up, skin-shedding Boa fits right in in the coat room, and so on. Sloth, for his part, can meditate and remain calm until he locates Patti. Lively illustrations throughout portray superfriendly animals, Sloth in particular, interacting with charmed children at a school that clearly has great liability insurance. Backmatter explains some of the behaviors of animals and people that inspired the book, ending with a useful plug for animal-rescue centers. For all its charm, however, the story stops a little short and feels lightweight overall, without adding much to the current vogue of sloths as cuddly spirit animals for the unrushed or perpetually late.

Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9159-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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