Fun and playful…or so Shark would have us believe.



A maligned shark steals the show to explain just how wrong his fellow fish are about him in Dyckman and Magoon’s debut collaboration.

Sporting a stylish fedora atop his bell, Bob, a jellyfish TV host, is about to start his show when a great white shark interrupts. Bob begs Shark not to eat a fish on the air, and Shark, with a big smile to the audience, insists he had no intention of eating anyone and simply wanted to show off his new tooth. After all, “sharks can grow and lose 30,000 teeth in their lifetime”—never mind that they lose most of them by using their powerful jaws on their prey, a “fun fact” that Bob, perhaps sensibly, omits. Bob never does quite get control of his show back as Shark hauls off first to eat a baby seal (whom he really just wanted to return to her seal family) and then to chase down a source of blood (so he could offer a Band-Aid). Although she seems to gender all her characters male with the exception of two ungendered squid production assistants and the female baby seal, Dyckman otherwise gives ambiguity the narrative spotlight with well-honed tension prolonging readers’ indecision. Meanwhile, Magoon’s flair for underwater illustration also allows a shark’s redemption and his prey’s suspicion to both live on the page. Readers will need to decide for themselves if Shark is really as scary as he seems or if misunderstandings have colored our opinions.

Fun and playful…or so Shark would have us believe. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11247-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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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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