Woolf yearns to celebrate diversity but instead paints a bleak picture

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WOOLF

When a wolf and sheep fall in love against the odds, their son must learn to navigate a world that is hostile to being both.

Woolf (“wool” plus “wolf”) has his mother’s pointy nose and bushy tail and his father’s fleecy body. He loves to “baa at the moon” and to stalk the best grass in the meadow. When it comes time to make friends, Woolf code-switches to adapt. He shaves his fleece to blend in with the wolves, but his vegetarian ways are not in sync with the wolves’ predatory natures. He curls and whitens his tail and smooths down his ears to fit in with the sheep but does not enjoy their aimless wandering. Defeated, Woolf turns away from both groups. Though Woolf finds a personally satisfying ending with new friends such as a bullfrog and a horsefly, whose names imply a similar mixed parentage, it is likely to be a disappointing end for many mixed-heritage children and their families looking for a story that might encourage a healthy integration of their diverse backgrounds. By rejecting the culture and identity of both sheep and wolves, Woolf rejects all the wonderful aspects that make him up as well.

Woolf yearns to celebrate diversity but instead paints a bleak picture . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84365-340-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pavilion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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