A memorable journey for sophisticated readers.

HEARTBEAT

In this artistically rendered picture book, a whale lives through 200 years of human history, taking readers from the brutal whaling industry to activism for harmony with the ocean and its creatures.

Deep purple and red hues in soft pastel and charcoal set the tone for an emotional journey in this latest work by Turk (The Storyteller, 2016, etc.). Beginning with a red glowing spot and purple background and the words “heart… / beat,” one heartbeat inside a whale becomes two heartbeats when the whale becomes pregnant. After she gives birth, the whale calf and its mother breathe “one song” into “one ocean.” Their harmony is cut off when straight, sharp white shapes and lines intrude upon the page. Colors give way to black and white as heartbeats stagger, and the whale calf is left alone, “one heart, one song.” Whale-shaped lamps are lit, machines are oiled, which knowledgeable readers can connect to the use of whale oil. Time passes, often violently. Finally, the story comes full circle as a concerned girl with afro puffs looks out from a boat with concern and joins the whale’s song. Many voices join in, until the soft red and purple pastels return, along with the text “One world, one song, one heartbeat.” The illustrations are evocative and emotional, although caregivers will likely need to help younger readers with the abstract storytelling.

A memorable journey for sophisticated readers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3520-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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