A thoughtful tale for engineers young and old.

HOUSE MOUSE

A story about what isn’t yet there…until it’s imagined by an industrious mouse!

It begins with a house, or perhaps with a warm, welcoming flame, or perhaps with the intrepid journey of a mouse who travels over a hill, across a river, and into an asparagus patch to find a home. But there isn’t a home…yet. First the mouse builds a stove around the flame, “to mark the spot where the chilliness wasn’t.” After an escape from a fox, the mouse builds a floor, marking a space “where the fox wouldn’t go.” A storm leads to a roof, and soon mouse has her house. A door is built, and unexpected guests fill the house with warm vegetable soup and friendship. Gentle, straightforward text and onomatopoeia recount the mouse’s efforts to envision what could be before it is there, learning from experience and creating the bones of a home in the empty space of the asparagus patch. Geometric artwork uses lines in all kinds of forms to evoke the stability of home and the uncertainty of travel; the mouse and her friends are simply yet effectively portrayed, conveying a childlike yet classic quality to the illustrations. A primarily earth-toned palette is peppered with tiny, colorful details throughout. The concentric halos around a candle on a deep blue spread are particularly poignant. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A thoughtful tale for engineers young and old. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-286619-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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