Heed Graham: Get up, get out of bed (drag a comb across your head, if you must), and go forth



Everyday life conspires to change the world. Want to try an ice cream cone?

For Graham, great events can have the most quotidian beginnings. To start: The weather is hot, and the ground is dusty—this is India in the summer. There is an open-air, roadside eatery—samosas, lassi, puri and muri—and a table with chairs under a few palms. A trucker stops his rig, filled with sacks of rice. Truck-stop sparrows are a bold breed, and one notices that one of the rice sacks is spilling its precious cargo. Time to feast, even as the truck pulls away: “Like all wild birds, he follows the food.” The text is minimal, as compressed as a prose poem, letting Graham’s spacious, impeccably placed and paced watercolors tell the tale. The truck drives to a port; the sacks are loaded on a freighter, which sails to a new city. Another day dawns. The sparrow finds another eatery in a city park. The weather is hot. A grandma and granddad are having ice cream cones. The sparrow drops onto the table to investigate, which agitates the dog, which bumps granddad’s arm, which dumps the cone in the baby’s lap: A new world is born.

Heed Graham: Get up, get out of bed (drag a comb across your head, if you must), and go forth .(Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7377-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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