A good reminder that a stroll through the woods should provide lots of opportunities to slow down and notice.

I HEAR YOU, FOREST

From the Sounds of Nature series

A whimsical tale of a child who listens hard in enjoying the woods.

A kid wearing a yellow shirt, reddish-orange overalls, and gray lace-up shoes tells readers, “The forest has lots to say…if you listen.” Every spread features onomatopoeic text that simulates the sounds of trees, leaves, animals, and other living things, and the child notices all of this. On one double-page spread, three squirrels nibble orange nuts or fruits in a tree while the child stands underneath, eyes closed, soaking in the sounds. The kid, who has pale skin and thick, black hair rendered in strokes that give it a ropy look, walks with an adult into the forest on the title page, and, on the last page, they leave together, hand in hand. But for most of the story, the young protagonist enjoys the forest alone, confident, safe, and immersed. The mixed-media illustrations, awash in greens and blues, portray the animals somewhat anthropomorphically. For instance, in the final scene, 13 animals appear, and all but one of them looks adoringly at the humans exiting the woods. While the illustrations offer young children opportunities to name different animals, scientifically oriented readers might be disappointed that vague anatomical details make some of them impossible to identify. The story kicks off the Sounds of Nature series.

A good reminder that a stroll through the woods should provide lots of opportunities to slow down and notice. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-736-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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