TOO CROWDED

A goldfish seeks drier pastures.

Gil lives in a round glass bowl with “a plant, a castle, and 138 pebbles to clean every day.” But it is “TOO CROWDED!” Gil cries, cradling his snoot after bumping it against the side of his bowl. In a shocking, jubilant twist, Gil slaps a bandage on his nose, shoves his rear fins into some sneakers, and packs a rolling bag, off on a quest to find a new house “that is not too crowded.” A bird’s nest is roomy, but the bird song is “TOO LOUD!” Cat’s house is huge and quiet, but…there’s a cat in it. Gil hitches a ride on Turtle’s house, but when the spoilsport reptile reminds him that fish “can’t breathe air,” Gil suddenly realizes that he’s suffocating. This plays out in vignettes in dramatic, Wile E. Coyote fashion. Luckily, his human, an overalls-clad Black child with short, curly hair and a bow, comes to the rescue and brings Gil back to his bowl. And when Turtle moves in too, it turns out that a bowl with a plant, a castle, 138 pebbles, and a friend is not too crowded after all. The story is a satisfying balance of familiar and fresh, with an endearing protagonist and an especially timely message about isolation and connection.

Utterly delightful. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2238-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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