Empathy and kindness are just as important as ABCs and 123s, and Amanda gives readers a good lesson.

AMANDA PANDA QUITS KINDERGARTEN

Amanda Panda starts off an unlikable kindergartner, but school (and exposure to other kids) teaches her how to be a friend, and that might be the most important lesson of all.

Amanda Panda (not the Amanda Panda of Sarah Dillard’s First Day at Zoo School) knows who she is, what she likes, and what she’s good at, and she has big plans for kindergarten. Those plans don’t include the girl panda in head-to-toe pink at the bus stop, though Bitsy does her best to be Amanda’s friend. While Amanda knows that she should return Bitsy’s compliment, she doesn’t. And when Bitsy sits at the table next to Amanda, “It is the end of the world.” Indeed, the day is rough, and Amanda can’t do anything quite right. So, at the end of a disastrous recess, she stealthily joins her older brother’s second-grade line and quits kindergarten. But the chairs are too big, and she can’t read the words. Just then a lost and afraid Bitsy appears to find her new friend. Amanda’s empathy finally manifests, and she leads Bitsy by the hand to kindergarten, where suddenly everything seems brighter and Bitsy is a friend. Amanda’s transformation is a bit sudden and extreme, and instead of combining their interests, Grove shows Amanda playing with Bitsy’s toys. Still, Grove’s watercolors masterfully portray Amanda’s every emotion, even the nasty ones.

Empathy and kindness are just as important as ABCs and 123s, and Amanda gives readers a good lesson. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55455-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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