Despite a lost opportunity, a mostly empowering story for children and their parents.

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE RED FORT

Ruby has a pile of boards, a fuzzy idea, and three brothers. And like the little red hen, Ruby’s on her own.

Her smart-aleck brothers have time for neither their pesky sister nor her project. “ ‘Who wants to help me draw the plans?’ Ruby asked….‘Not me,’ said Oscar Lee. ‘I don’t think so,’ said Rodrigo. ‘No way,’ said José. ‘I’m too busy.’ ” With the help of her mother and grandmother, Ruby saws and hammers until the backyard fort takes pride of place in the backyard—much to the envious grumblings of the three boys. When Ruby won’t let them inside, the brothers paint the fort, add a mailbox, and plant flowers in hopes of a reprieve. “Ruby was delighted.” Mollified, she invites them in for a plate of cookies. Barcelonan artist Sánchez incorporates fun details such as the strings of papel picado bedecking the fort and the brothers’ chalk art. Her textured illustrations and sense of humor add depth to each dynamic scene. Throughout the story, Maier’s little Latina go-getter breaks gender and cultural stereotypes. She outthinks and outperforms the boys. She uses her dad’s drafting table and her mom’s workshop, and female relatives help build the fort. In light of this, it’s too bad the boys don’t propitiate Ruby with further gender-norm–defying gestures, instead joining her to eat cookies she evidently has baked.

Despite a lost opportunity, a mostly empowering story for children and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-85919-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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