Ultimately more about highlighting the culture of Nunavut than learning any life lessons, but it’s still a cute story...

UKALIQ AND KALLA GO FISHING

Inuit author Mike (Leah’s Mustache Party, 2016) channels her northern roots in this lighthearted parable of mismatched friendship.

Ukaliq is a high-energy Arctic hare who is always up for a new adventure. Kalla is a fastidious lemming who plans ahead and prefers staying cozy at home. When Ukaliq invites Kalla out for a day of fishing he is impatient to get started. In his haste Ukaliq neglects to bring snacks and extra fuel; his impetuousness even hampers his ability to nab any nibbling char. Fortunately, Kalla is patient and thoughtful and helps guide his friend to a successful fishing expedition. Sandland’s watercolor and ink illustrations highlight the different temperaments of the friends (a grumpy Kalla, suffering the effects of Ukaliq’s boisterousness, is priceless) and bring life to the icy northern landscape. In the end it is unclear if Ukaliq has learned anything from the experience, and in fact he seems oblivious to Kalla’s impact on the ultimate success of the outing. This lack of a clear moral seems true to life, if a bit unsatisfying. Apart from this, the text assumes readers have a base knowledge of regional or Inuit terms such as “jerry can” and “qamutiik,” which can inhibit the understanding of outside readers even with context clues in the illustrations.

Ultimately more about highlighting the culture of Nunavut than learning any life lessons, but it’s still a cute story suitable for sharing . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77227-135-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 26, 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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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