Sweet but bland.

READ REVIEW

13 STORIES ABOUT HARRIS

Small moments in the life of a small person.

Harris, a tiny blond white boy with a mom and a dad, has a happy life in a friendly city. Thirteen vignettes show moments in his life that will be immediately familiar to young children and their grown-ups. He falls off a toy truck, pretends to be a truck during Thanksgiving, experiments with permanent markers, and gets chocolate cake all over a pristine outfit. The illustrations are loose but expressive; everyone has tiny black eyes and relatively blank faces, but much is expressed through body language. Bright, primary colors match the simple, innocent text. These anodyne stories seem tailored to hark back to a fictional simpler time, like the “Here and Now” style pioneered in an earlier era of children’s literature, but unfortunately these come across as cloying rather than refreshing today. Despite the situational diversity (people of color in the background, including Harris’ black friend Ayana), this book feels old-fashioned rather than timeless. While children might laugh at some of Harris’ antics, and adults may chuckle along, the structure of 13 very short stories that don’t quite fit together makes this less than effective as a read-aloud.

Sweet but bland. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4249-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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