A humorous reminder that all we really need is already within us.

THE ALPACTORY

READY, PACK, GO!

The Alpactory helps critters setting out on new adventures decide just what they need to take with them.

A snake named Ralph worries about packing all the wrong things for a sleepover. A penguin named Marley fears a pencil shortage on the first day of school. And a guinea pig named Cora has “just too much stuff to pack” for an upcoming camping trip. Enter the Alpactory, an alpaca-operated business designed to provide “packing and preparation services for all experiences.” Alpaca Nigel welcomes Ralph, Marley, and Cora to the Alpactory, promising them its workers know “just what you’ll need, guaranteed!” Inside the facility, teams of alpacas select and pack all the right things, including books to prevent loneliness, flashlights to ward off the dark, familiar items to prevent homesickness, clothing for all weather, and even snacks and toys. Unfortunately, Ralph, Marley, and Cora can’t budge their now completely overstuffed suitcases and backpacks, prompting them to reassess what they really need for their new adventures. Humorous, bustling, colorful cartoon illustrations rendered in neat black outlines brim with bevies of wide-eyed, energetic alpacas and fascinating machines selecting, testing, and packing an array of “stuff” on endless conveyors and long assembly lines. Like Ralph, Marley, and Cora, readers should find their Alpactory visit an entertaining one.

A humorous reminder that all we really need is already within us. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-290951-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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