A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife.

THE ELEPHANT KEEPER

CARING FOR ORPHANED ELEPHANTS IN ZAMBIA

From the CitizenKid series

This picture book offers a fresh perspective on Earth’s largest land mammals.

Following his father’s death, Aaron, a black Zambian boy, takes over his father’s job at the distant Lion’s Lodge to help support his family. One morning, he rescues a baby elephant from drowning in the lodge pool. The keepers from a local elephant orphanage who take custody of the calf invite Aaron to visit. When Aaron faces criticism at home because some consider elephants a dangerous nuisance, Aaron’s mother tells him, “Don’t listen to them….You did the right thing. You don’t just let an animal die.” Aaron visits the orphanage and amazes the keepers when Zambezi, the baby elephant, who had refused to eat, finishes a bottle of milk for Aaron. Thus begins a beautiful friendship and a new career for Aaron. The backmatter features a photograph of the real-life Aaron, who has worked at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery since 2012 and now serves as team leader of the elephant keepers. Double-page informational spreads about elephant biology, their endangered status, the nursery, and more punctuate the beautiful and emotionally charged mixed-media paintings that carry the text-heavy narrative. The first informational spread comes as a surprise because the book reads like fiction, but readers will find them useful for understanding the experiences of Aaron and Bezi.

A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-561-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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