On the first day, both the light and the dark sides of kindergartners will go to school, their kissing hands clutching a...

OLIVER AND HIS ALLIGATOR

Going into the darkness beyond Petunia Goes Wild! (2012), Schmid enters the tongue-in-cheek metaphorical alligator/crocodile waters of Candace Fleming (Who Invited You?, illustrated by George Booth, 2001) and Joe Kulka (My Crocodile Does Not Bite, 2013).

Oliver isn’t too sure about starting school—will his “brave” be big enough?—so he stops by the swamp and picks up his own tough: an alligator. “Just in case things got rough.” When he is asked his name by a lady (not his mom) and can’t remember, two little words take care of the difficulty: “Much, munch!” The same happens to a friendly little girl when Oliver’s answer gets stuck. A classroom full of noisy kids? Decorations that intimidate with all Oliver must learn? Not a problem for the now-rotund alligator. But now the problem is, “School is maybe kind of a little boring.” But where is that singing and laughter coming from? And can Oliver solve his newest quandary? Munch, munch! The simple, spare pastel pencil and digitally colored illustrations masterfully use both white space and the page turn to add to the humor. Retro pinks, yellows, blues and greens highlight details in the otherwise gray-and-white illustrations, while the three stripes on the alligator (and his never-open mouth) give him an appealing, nonthreatening look.

On the first day, both the light and the dark sides of kindergartners will go to school, their kissing hands clutching a stuffed alligator, self-confidence soaring. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7437-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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