A heartfelt if imperfect tribute to one George by another who will also be missed.

GALÁPAGOS GEORGE

The passing of Lonesome George, the last of the saddleback tortoises from the island of Pinta, provides the occasion to demonstrate how different species might descend from a common ancestor.

Swept from her desert home by a storm and washed up on a distant island with some of her relatives, the elderly tortoise’s imagined ancestor, Giantess George, was lucky. She was able to feed in her new home, to breed and to have numerous slightly differing descendants, each group adapted to its particular Galápagos island. The story continues with the arrival of humans, a visit by Charles Darwin and the transport of Giantess George’s last descendent, Lonesome George, to a research center on Santa Cruz Island in the early 1970s. There, he lived out the rest of his life; no one ever found him a mate. When he died in 2012, he was thought to be over 100 years old. Minor’s paintings are gorgeous, befitting the awesome Galápagos scenery and including representative plants and animals. But the posthumously published text oversimplifies. It describes Darwin speculating about the giant tortoises’ common ancestor, but at the time, he didn’t realize they were different species. It condenses the adaptation process. Even the backmatter doesn’t use the phrase “natural selection,” and the very important term “evolution” is defined incorrectly.

A heartfelt if imperfect tribute to one George by another who will also be missed. (key terms, timeline, resources) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-028793-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

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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