Avoid this confusing fantasy and instead seek out one of the many excellent books that directly discuss the monarch’s...

LITTLE BUTTERFLY

When her cat injures the wing of a monarch butterfly at the opening of this wordless story, the blonde little white girl is delighted to discover that the creature can still fly.

Curling up under her orange cape for a nap in the grass, she is soon covered with a blanket of monarchs, who carry her over land and sea to a grove of trees covered in butterflies. Alighting, she sprouts monarch wings of her own and then, abruptly, is depicted lying on the ground again. Working with pencils and digital media, Logan uses a controlled palette: the butterflies, the girl’s cape, and a few leaves and flowers are orange; the water and occasional patches of sky are blue; everything else is soft gray. A rent in the girl’s cape together with its color connect her visually with the injured butterfly, a detail children will appreciate. They will, however, be puzzled by much else, starting with the story’s ambiguity: is her journey real, or is it a dream? The pictorial clues are mixed. How does the little girl grasp all those butterflies? And, having established the visual leitmotif of the torn wing, Logan disappoints readers by not clearly depicting the girl’s special friend during the fantastical flight. In a note, Logan describes her feeling of wonder at butterfly migration.

Avoid this confusing fantasy and instead seek out one of the many excellent books that directly discuss the monarch’s amazing journey. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-228126-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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