LOON BABY

When Baby Loon’s mother fails to return, he faces a frightening experience. Baby and Mama Loon live in a soft, warm nest on a small lake in the great north woods. One day Mama submerges to find dinner since Baby can’t dive yet. As he waits, Baby paddles and floats, but soon he’s worried. Mama’s never been gone so long. Determined to find her, Baby puts his head under the water and flip-kicks his feet, making wee dives. When it starts raining, Baby realizes he’s “tired and hungry, cold and wet and lonely, and lost,” and emits a “sinking, giving-up cry.” Suddenly a familiar head surfaces with Baby’s dinner in her beak, and a relieved Baby shows off his new kick-flip all the way home. The simple text tracks Baby’s progression from waiting to worrying to fear to anguish while loosely rendered watercolors in blues, greens and grays textured with pen-and-ink cross-hatch visually follow Baby’s descent into despair. Close-ups show worried Baby repeatedly dipping underwater, his web feet kick-flipping as he frantically searches. Aerial views emphasize Baby’s solitary state as his tiny form paddles alone. In one double-page spread, a stunned Baby bobs amid choppy waves, and in another, a drenched, agonized Baby wails. Guaranteed to hit the mark with anyone who’s ever felt lost and alone. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-25487-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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