A light dose of problem-solving with a climactic dash of suspense, all tightly wrapped in warm feelings.

WALLY WANTS TO HUG

His classmates’ (understandable) reluctance to accept affectionate squeezes makes Wally the boa constrictor sad.

Wally—cast in Ashdown’s crayon-and-watercolor drawings as by far the largest student but with big eyeglasses that give him a particularly harmless look—gets lots of hugs at home. But when he tries to give Bella the mouse a birthday hug she flees into her cubby, and efforts with other members of his diverse animal class go similarly. “Just be your cuddly self, Wally,” advises his mom. “Soon your friends will let you hug.” The best he can get, though, is verbal praise from a distance until the teacher sees his tears and elicits from him a promise to hug gently. Nonetheless, in a closing twist (so to speak), Wally is so excited by the ensuing collective clinch that he gets carried away. The panicked expressions of his fellow students set up the final page, where Wally delivers not a bone-crushing squeeze but a big…wait for it…kiss. Whew! Young readers will have no trouble finding sympathy for points of view on both sides of the hug. The episode could also serve as a discussion starter about inappropriate displays of affection or general physical contact.

A light dose of problem-solving with a climactic dash of suspense, all tightly wrapped in warm feelings. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0404-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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