Fetching in words and pictures, this story shows how sometimes all one needs is a growth in perspective.

LITTLE JUNIPER MAKES IT BIG

A youngster deals with the persistent impatience that attends wanting to grow bigger.

Juniper, an anthropomorphic raccoon with two parents, does not like being little, so she is frustrated when, “three days later,” her mother’s assurances to have “patience” don’t pay off. Feeling dwarfed by objects around her house, she goes on a spree, building height-extenders to fix her dilemma, manifested in a succession of hard-to-reach cookie jars (of which there are a surprising number for one raccoon family). At school, Juniper feels more at ease because there, she is “average.” She makes friends with a new student, Clove, and is impressed by the squirrel’s acrobatics, which make up for her diminutive size. Clove invites her to a sleepover, and it turns out that a young raccoon is about the size of adult squirrels, so Juniper loves being “adult-size” in a house where she can easily reach the box of cookies on the top shelf. But there are some drawbacks, like how “hide-and-seek [is] unexpectedly quick.” Juniper returns home with a new appreciation for things as they are. The text is cordial and playful, including alliteration for her various inventions that all “fell short.” Cassie’s drawings resemble black pen and watercolors. Most of the items populating the friendly cast of woodland creatures’ homes are all-natural, aligning with the woodsy color palette.

Fetching in words and pictures, this story shows how sometimes all one needs is a growth in perspective. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-31045-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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 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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