A lovely, gentle exercise in getting along.

READ REVIEW

WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BENNY?

A young fox cub just wants to play with big brother Benny.

Benny builds a fort, makes a paper airplane and a sandwich, rides a bike, plays guitar, and more. His unnamed younger sib enthusiastically promotes the many ways in which they could enhance these activities—but, alas, to no avail. Benny’s answer is always a resounding, “No.” Benny seems to know the effect his rejections have on his sibling, signaling this awareness with a subtle, sly look of satisfaction. When the little cub withdraws from the action, Benny comes and tells the younger fox he is going out, fully expecting his sib to follow, which the cub does, only to face further rejection. Finally the cub decides to put on a puppet show alone, engaging in mimicry of those interactions. And the next time Benny invites the cub, it’s the younger child’s turn to say, “No, thanks.” Surprised, Benny brings a sandwich as a peace offering, and they play with the puppets together. Relating the tale in the first person by the younger fox in child-friendly dialogue and with delightfully imaginative imagery, Fagan treats the sibling relationship with humor and kindness, leading to a win-win outcome. Placed in a series of individual boxes, along with single- and double-page spreads, Denton’s softly hued ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations present a well-to-do fox burrow and a plethora of details that make each incident and emotion fully realized.

A lovely, gentle exercise in getting along. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77049-857-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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 pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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