The story is solid enough, but it’s the illustrations that steal the show.

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THE GOLDEN GLOW

An anthropomorphic fox searches for a rare flower in this Canadian import translated from the French.

When plant-lover Fox, perusing a botany book, comes across an entry for a “golden glow…plant from the Wellhidden family,” he knows he must find it. He packs his backpack, and a double-page spread shows and labels the items packed: map, snack, sleeping bag, etc. Author/illustrator Flouw continues to use this device as he showcases the plants, trees, and regions that Fox identifies as he travels; the technique adds an original layer to the somewhat formulaic journey story. Fox meets and asks other anthropomorphic animals (Bear, Wolf, Marmot, Mountain Goat) if they have seen the flower, and their suggestions eventually lead Fox to a mountaintop. The distinctive illustrations are done in a nature-hued palette and have a collagelike style consisting of superimposed angular flat shapes that strikingly render depth and perspective by using darker or lighter tones (as well as white space) and larger or smaller shapes. One fascinating double-page spread, laid out like a camera panning from left to right, moves readers’ eyes to the page turn while giving a sense of movement and time. 

The story is solid enough, but it’s the illustrations that steal the show. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6412-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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