An insightful portrayal of childhood loss and healing.

THERE WAS A HOLE

A girl struggling with grief receives help from a classmate and her father.

Lily has “a hole”—represented by a dusky violet circle on her T-shirt. Her sadness persists through festivities on her birthday, a beach trip, and more. Despite her empathetic father’s attempts to help, Lily’s hole grows as she withdraws from favorite pastimes and routines. At school, Thomas notices her distress and confides, “I have a hole too.” Thomas shows her the patches on his T-shirt. “They help you repair the hole.” Lily works on creating patches with Thomas at school, at home with Daddy, and alone. Lily’s and Thomas’ patches are symbols of things that can help us heal—pets, nature, music, and connections with others. Lehrhaupt sensitively handles a common emotional side effect of healing from grief: worrying that moving on means forgetting. “If I patch it completely, will I still remember?” asks Lily. “You won’t forget,” he reassures her. “But things will get better.” By showing Lily beginning to recover due in part to the help of a friend, Lehrhaupt demonstrates that kids have the ability to help themselves and others heal from loss. Gentle illustrations, often set against white backdrops, portray Lily and her dad with light brown skin and dark hair. Thomas has dark brown skin and curly hair; students in the classroom are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An insightful portrayal of childhood loss and healing. (author’s note, “how to make a patch” activity) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-53411-122-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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