When life gave her lemons, Ruby made lemonade. A sweet read—and lesson—for young readers.

RUBY'S REUNION DAY DINNER

Will this be the year Ruby gets to make and share a dish at the annual family reunion?

Once a year, Ruby’s African American family gets together for a reunion and soul food dinner. Every year her relatives prepare their signature dishes, and this year Ruby wants to make one, too. Affectionately nicknamed “Lil’ Bit” by relatives, Ruby doesn’t know what to make, and when Auntie Billie questions if she’s big enough to help in the kitchen, Ruby begins to have doubts, too. Nevertheless, fueled by her mother’s confidence that she will find her special something to make, Ruby approaches her family members in hopes that they will allow her to help them, but there’s no use, Ruby is just too small. Readers will feel Ruby’s discouragement even as their mouths begin to water at the meal her family is assembling. Finally, she ventures outside, where she notices a stand of lemon trees and she gets the bright idea to make a refreshing pitcher of lemonade—which is just what they all needed. This is a charming book that works well as a read-aloud, especially as a lap read with children who are gaining independence and want to do more than they are able. Ruby’s well-drawn expressions support the use of this book as a picture walk with very young readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

When life gave her lemons, Ruby made lemonade. A sweet read—and lesson—for young readers. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-301574-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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