A visual treat for the young imagination

SUN

A boy named Sun has a close encounter with a fox.

In this immensely appealing fantasy, the minimalist text takes a back seat to the boldly colorful illustrations. The central figure is Sun, a young boy who is introduced as a “soccer star.” But this picture book is not about soccer—it’s rather about Sun’s awareness that “something was missing.” Observing that his younger brother, Pablo, “looked happy” while “making art,” Sun heads for the beach, recalling that “he used to make art too.” Awaiting Sun are an unexpected encounter with a fox and a rekindling of his creativity, expressed in an explosion of collage-style montages. The spread in which the fox shows Sun how to make art is a fabulously messy composition, colorful scrawls and squiggles in the background recalling Pablo’s exuberant experimentation on the walls even as Sun and the fox build sculptures out of found objects. Feeling “connected” at last, Sun notices that the day is drawing to a close and returns to an undefined “home” (sans parents), where he and Pablo explore their creativity together in a space that has the look of the outdoors but with those vigorous, unbridled scrawls and squiggles again on a blue-sky backdrop. The soccer-themed introduction feels superfluous, as the not-so-subtle message concerns the magic of art and nature. Both boys have dark brown skin and textured black hair.

A visual treat for the young imagination . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78162-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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