A lovely if incomplete story of animals and humans living together.

ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS

Can you imagine living in a city with an enormous elephant seal in residence?

Once upon a time in New Zealand, an elephant seal took up residence in the shallow Avon River and sunned herself in the parks and on the sides of the roads there. No matter how many times the humans roped her and towed her back to the open ocean, she would find her way back to the place she loved: the city of Christchurch. Cox, an open-water swimmer, must identify with the long swims that Elizabeth took in order to find her way home. Floca’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations beautifully depict both the grandeur of the ocean and the architectural details of the bridges and buildings of Christchurch. Catching the sea at all times of the day, Floca treats readers to rare evening views of orange, darkening skies and water. Modern children will marvel at the freedom of Michael, the main character. He is a young boy alone: walking to school, playing by the beach and visiting the water at night to wish upon the stars. Though based on a true story, there are no bibliographic references for readers to follow to find further information about Elizabeth, nor is there any mention of when the story took place beyond dated-looking cars.

A lovely if incomplete story of animals and humans living together. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-85888-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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