This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter.

THE CAMPING TRIP

From the Adventures of Pettson and Findus series

Perils and perturbations await two friends hoping for a peaceful camping experience in the mountains.

When Pettson, a bearded, white human, and his beanie-wearing cat, Findus, discover an old, rolled-up tent in the attic, they are inspired to take a hike in the mountains. Unfortunately their trip is cut short by 10 of Pettson’s overly enthusiastic hens, who want to tag along. They decide just to pitch the tent in the yard. After that nothing is predictable. Fishing in the nearby lake reveals a massive pike, Findus coerces Pettson into sleeping in the tent with him, and after that, Pettson tells a whopper of a tall tale to his neighbor about why they’re camping at all. The story was originally published in Swedish in 1992 and in the United States in 1993 as Festus and Mercury Go Camping, and it’s little wonder that Pettson (a parental stand-in) and Findus (a child) have a cult following. There’s more text to each scene than most modern picture books, but Nordqvist’s writing keeps everything moving at a smart clip. Tiny details and creatures are often hidden in the backgrounds of the book’s scenes, and most (like the mailbox in Pettson’s bedroom that’s stuffed full of dirty socks) are charming. One exception might be a teepee with a feathered headdress–wearing rodent family peeking at our heroes’ foibles.

This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4277-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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