A lesson in camouflage and in welcoming new friends.

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TWIG

A stick insect’s camouflage makes it hard for her to find friends—or, really, for them to find her.

A variety of students arrive at Bug School for classes with Miss Orb, but not one notices Heidi, who is brown and thin, exactly like a twig or the class hat stand, which Miss Orb mistakes her for when she hangs up her weaving. Heidi’s camouflage is so good, in fact, that she’s unseen through the class counting lesson, lunch, and recess. Readers will empathize with her, her crossed arms (all four of them), hunched shoulders, and drooped face expressing her emotion clearly (if they can spy her!). It’s not until Miss Orb teaches weaving and Scarlett, a ladybug, goes searching for interesting items to add to her project that Heidi (mistaken for a twig) is finally discovered. Miss Orb has the perfect welcoming activity: weaving a colorful scarf for Heidi so she’s not so hidden. It’s just the ticket for helping her feel part of the group. Readers may note that games with her new friends seem to emphasize what tall and slender Heidi can do for them (reach things, be a bridge, etc.) rather than what she wants to do…except when it comes to playing hide-and-seek. Parker’s watercolor, colored pencil, artline pens, and digital compositions are quite delicate and detailed, her bug school delightfully analogous to children’s own.

A lesson in camouflage and in welcoming new friends. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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