The art pops—and pops up.

I LOVE YOU (ALMOST ALWAYS)

A POP-UP BOOK OF FRIENDSHIP

Insect friends find ways of coping with each other’s differences.

As with Llenas’ The Color Monster (2018), the magnificent art will prove a stronger draw than the sketchy storyline. Ralph is a “roly-poly” with a hard shell, a gift for camouflage, and a preference for being in charge. Rita is a firefly—quick, flashy, and extroverted. At first such differences don’t matter, but in time they prove irritating enough to lead to a brief falling-out. With the willingness to make a few accommodations, though, the two find their relationship strong enough to survive and flower into, at the end, a closing smooch. Gatefolds, inset booklets, immense multilayered pop-ups that seem to burst up as they open, and pull tabs that create big, broad movements enhance illustrations created from layers and assemblages of large and small cut-paper bits, all further energized with transparent colors and added scribbly lines. Though Ralph and Rita have buglike attributes, they look like humans (both white) in costumes. Younger audiences will likely pay more attention to the tabs and pop-ups than the theme, but both pals are drawn with large, expressive faces that make it easy to track the ins and outs of their close, if occasionally stressed, relationship.

The art pops—and pops up. (Pop-up picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3950-4

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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