In the end it won’t be hard to feel empathy for both kids, doing their best to get along.

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MONKEY BROTHER

Coping with a younger, rambunctious, adoring sibling is reflected in a child’s complaining yet fond lament.

In this child’s eyes, younger brother looks and acts like a little monkey, complete with long curving tail enabling him to hang upside down from lamps and to wreak chaos everywhere, especially where he should not be, such as in the narrator’s bedroom. Black-outlined cartoons, often presented in several sequenced scenes on a page, feature an exasperated older white child with unruly red hair reacting to the younger, seemingly simian sib, who trails about incessantly, interrupts with hugs, invades every space, and copies every move. But halfway through this rant, the narrator acquiesces to some of the good in having a hero-worshiping little brother who tries to help and even plays cooperatively. And when necessary, they can team up against the disruption of an elephantlike baby sister, introduced in the final double-page spread. “Once in a while, the little guy surprises me. / And I remember that my little brother can be pretty fun sometimes and even kind of sweet.” Negative and positive are balanced, ending on an upbeat tone; older siblings everywhere will recognize the challenges inherent in showing unconditional love despite their occasional resentment.

In the end it won’t be hard to feel empathy for both kids, doing their best to get along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-600-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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