WATCHING WATER BIRDS

A cross between a naturalist's diary of backyard observations and a guide to identifying water birds, for newcomers or for pint-sized veterans of duck-feeding at the local pond. Arnosky (Rabbits & Raindrops, 1997, etc.) collects a random assortment of typical water fowl, based on personal sightings, and accompanied by sketches, notes, and full-color, actual-size portraits of a few favorites. Useful identification tips highlight dissimilarities between loons and grebes, geese and ducks, male and female of each species. One exception is the omission of visual references to egrets in their comparison with herons. Arnosky's distinctions include differences in flight characteristics, coloring and markings, and habitat selection, which sharpen the focus to an untrained eye. Birds are depicted in flight or underwater as well as coming in for a landing or gliding on water. A splash of facts inserted in side panels show such things as the mallard's habit of ``tipping up'' or where the female's wings are tucked when not in flight. In an easy conversational style, Arnosky explains just how a seagull spots the sparkling broadsides of fleeing fish underwater. Remarking on his own drawings, the author encourages readers to copy his illustrations in addition to sketching birds outdoors, taking this bird lesson a step beyond mere identification. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7922-7073-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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