WHY BUTTERFLIES GO BY ON SILENT WINGS

Davol (The Loudest, Fastest, Best Drummer in Kansas, 2000, etc.) spins an original pourquoi tale of when the world was young and butterflies were dressed in dull colors, earth-tones of browns and grays and washed-out pinks and purples. The butterflies were chatty, noisy creatures that couldn’t stop commenting on everything they saw and they were the loudest in a land of loud animals. A sudden thunderstorm and bolt of lighting splits the butterflies’ tree in half, stunning them into silence. In the silent aftermath of the storm, as the sun warmed their wings, the butterflies began to glow with color, “gold of the sun, the blue of the sky, and all the colors of the rainbow.” In awe, they stopped shouting at each other and flew away on silent wings, and the rest of the animals quieted down, too. While the story doesn’t soar, it’s the breathtaking art that sets this apart. Roth’s (Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice, 1997, etc.) exquisitely detailed, naturalistic watercolor paintings of wildflowers, sunflowers, poppies, allium, tiger lilies, and daisies shimmer on the page. Monkeys swing over the top of double-paged spreads as hyenas, elephants, giraffes, and zebras stroll across the bottom. A lovely appeal for quiet contemplation of nature’s gifts. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-531-30322-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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