Memorable and moving.

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A STONE FOR SASCHA

After laying her beloved dog to rest, a girl finds peace with a smooth stone that has traveled the world through the ages, in this wordless picture book by Becker.

A young black girl collects flowers for her dog’s grave before the family leaves for vacation. At their campsite, they set up by the shore. Night is falling as the girl finds a smooth stone at the water’s edge. A pictorial transition leads to depictions of the stone’s formation under the earth as dinosaurs roamed. When the stone, enormous in the beginning, protrudes from the earth, it is carried to an ancient royal building and carved. Wars, looting, decay, and repurposing send the stone from one civilization to another, to be used in a religious monument, a bridge, a work of art. The golden stone seems to glow against the shades of gray and beige in the historical scenes, and again against the dark purple and mauve of the night at camp. When a voyage ends in a shipwreck, the stone sinks to the bottom of the sea and is later carried to shore, where the girl finds it. She looks at peace as she presses the stone to her face, eyes closed. In the final scene, the stone sits on the dog’s burial mound as the girl and her brother play. Readers will be enticed to explore this book’s beautiful, dreamlike pictures, and the message of healing will comfort many who have known loss.

Memorable and moving. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6596-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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 must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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