A melancholy story of changing relationships rather than a celebration of the excitement of a blackout.

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IN THE TREE HOUSE

A tale reminiscent, but falling short, of John Rocco’s 2012 Caldecott honor book, Blackout, depicts a boy longing for time with his big brother.

First-person, retrospective narration recounts how, when the family moves to a new house, the boys build a treehouse with their father. A happy summertime ensues, with the brothers ensconced in their treetop perch, playing cards and reading comics. When they try to stargaze, though, city lights obscure the starlight. A year later, the little brother forlornly explains that this summer his elder sibling would rather hang out with friends than spend time with him. “So now I’m king of the castle. I can do whatever I want up here,” reads text accompanied by a picture showing him as anything but happy about this prospect. Then a blackout occurs, and stars are suddenly visible. Neighbors pour into the street, using candles and flashlights and sharing ice cream before it melts. Best of all, the big brother ascends the treehouse ladder to play cards and look at comics by flashlight again. Even when the lights return and neighbors go inside, the brothers keep playing in the treehouse. The strongest illustrations follow the lead of the darkened cover art, but the book never achieves the visual brilliance of Rocco’s more distinguished work.

A melancholy story of changing relationships rather than a celebration of the excitement of a blackout. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-635-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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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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