Tip and Tucker are not Elephant and Piggie, but they’re cute and provide good practice for new readers.

ROAD TRIP

From the Tip and Tucker series

This beginning reader introduces children to two hamsters with quite different personalities.

Part of the I Am A Reader line, this first outing for Tip and Tucker opens in a pet shop, where Mr. Lopez has come to purchase a pet. Tucker, a larger tan hamster, is excited and tries to get Tip, a smaller gray-and-white hamster, interested. But Tip is the opposite of curious, adventurous Tucker, and he hides in his plastic igloo. Mr. Lopez purchases both hamsters, some food, and a cage. Tip gets even more nervous when the man tells Rosa (whether proprietor or clerk is unclear) that the hamsters’ new home will be noisy; he doesn’t like noisy. The trip to the car is bumpy, and the car ride is more of the same. But Tucker likes the look of their new home: It’s got blocks, jump ropes, balls, and lots of books. Mr. Lopez’s parting words raise more questions for the two—“See you tomorrow. Your first day of school!”—and set up the sequel. Short sentences in a fairly large font and repetition help make the text of this rather bland plot manageable for confident beginning readers, while Ceolin’s adorable illustrations give children clues and nicely show the contrast between nervous Tip and reassuring Tucker. Mr. Lopez and Rosa are probably both Latinx; he with light skin and glasses and she with brown skin.

Tip and Tucker are not Elephant and Piggie, but they’re cute and provide good practice for new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-006-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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