Empathetic and sweet, this simply told, well-illustrated book helps not only with birthday bummers, but with negotiating...

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I FEEL FIVE!

Fritz expects to feel totally different when he turns 5, but it turns out that 5 feels a lot like 4.

He still can’t tie his shoes, snap, whistle or master the monkey bars. And not even one of his teeth wiggles. Self-assured pen, ink and watercolor illustrations produce vivid renderings of a young boy’s bounce, his tousled hair, bony ankles, fluttering superhero cape, inflated birthday expectation and subsequent deflation. Fritz’s day plays out in soft watercolor scenes that make fine use of page turns, page composition and supremely crisp white space. Double-page spreads evoke tender feelings: an ecstatic leap from bed on his birthday morning (gold beams surrounding his lithe, lean body) and, especially, his sad sit-down beneath an apple tree (a foggy gray wash muting the entire playground). A new friendship (with a girl!) makes Fritz feel a little more 5, as well as a little blushed and bashful. Every child knows how it feels to squirm gleefully in the throes of a big buildup and also how it feels to stifle tears after a big letdown, making Fritz’s story universally appealing.

Empathetic and sweet, this simply told, well-illustrated book helps not only with birthday bummers, but with negotiating many of life’s highs and lows . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6291-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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