Convincingly and sweetly told, Moon’s story is a striking authorial debut from illustrator Oliver.

MOON

An overscheduled kid gets a taste of the wild life of wolves and brings some of it back home.

Moon is a young girl with a long list of to-dos, including homework, trumpet lessons, “stuff and more stuff.…Moon always did it all. But she wondered what it would be like not to.” Moon tries to learn what it would be like to be wild in books, but that’s a dead end. Instead, she wanders out one night and befriends a benign pack of wolves. She asks them to show her “the wolfy ways,” leading to pouncing, playing, and, of course, howling. It’s exactly what one would expect, as Moon learns the value of being wild once in a while, which she brings back to her school, to the enjoyment (and participation) of classmates. But one passage resonates and stands apart from the rest, on a double-page spread in which Moon and a wolf calmly meditate, their images reflected in a pool of water, and Moon learns “How to be still, how to listen and feel.” The delicate illustrations, which have a dreamlike quality in their glowing whites and luminous pastels (not to mention Moon’s purple skin), suggest that this may be a dream, but what Moon learns is not.

Convincingly and sweetly told, Moon’s story is a striking authorial debut from illustrator Oliver. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-78160-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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