Get a good whiff of this olfactorily original celebration of individuality.



What’s a stinkbug to do if it can’t make a stink?

At every stinking contest, stinkbug Bud pales in comparison to his more-pungent kin. While the others emit scents of smokestack, dead fish, or dog doo, Bud stands out with his scent of flowers. Or pine tree. Or new car. Even his name lacks a certain je ne sais quoi when compared to the likes of P.U. Bottoms, Lord Stinkington, and The Fumigator. Time and time again, Bud’s not-so-stinky fragrances land him in last place—and make him feel like an outsider. When a bee named April follows her nose to flowers but instead sees Bud dancing (and smelling) up a storm, she invites him to her hive for a dance party. The other bees initially turn up their noses at the stinkbug. But when they see Bud’s dance moves and smell his most fragrant scent of all, everything eventually starts coming up roses. Rash’s bold art mixes gouache, ink, and digital techniques to create a rich, colorful world. Between double-page spreads and a few large comics-style panels (all with textured backgrounds), there’s minimal white space. For a story about an outsider, this one stands out in that Bud’s struggle with what a stinkbug should be is mostly internal. The only real bully in this story is Bud himself.

Get a good whiff of this olfactorily original celebration of individuality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-439-36880-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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