A fanciful approach to raising children’s consciousness about conservation.

Rhyming text introduces the titular conundrum with the opening line, “There’s a Rang-tan in my bedroom,” delivered by a child with brown skin and straight, dark hair. Accompanying colorful art shows an orangutan wreaking havoc in the child’s home—throwing away chocolate, howling at shampoo—until the child finally asks why the animal is there. The following pages, set in a forest, switch perspective, with the orangutan’s narration: “There’s a human in my forest, and I don’t know what to do.” The text goes on to explain that the human presence in the rainforest is linked to clear-cutting in order to grow palm trees for palm oil used in products like chocolate and shampoo. (These facts are also detailed in both a foreword by actor and conservationist Emma Thompson and the backmatter, which specifies Indonesia as the place where orangutans live in the wild.) Now the child knows what to do: organize! Moved by the orangutan’s plight, the child writes letters to corporations asking them to curb deforestation, and backmatter provides readers with practical, accessible steps to do the same. Preston-Gannon’s illustrations feature characters both human and animal with big, round eyes and soft outlines; the scenes of bulldozers laying waste to the forest are unsurprisingly upsetting. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 18.4% of actual size.)

A good, green read. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62371-873-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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