A heartwarming story that uses an everyday occurrence to push the envelope on many fronts.

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TEDDY'S FAVORITE TOY

Knuffle Bunny is reimagined with dialogue and a dash of suspense.

Teddy, a brown-skinned boy, has many toys ranging from firetrucks to jigsaw puzzles, but Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica, is his absolute favorite. But after excessive use, Bren-Da’s leg snaps one morning. Teddy does not have the time to fix her, so he leaves her in his room and goes to school. When he comes back, Bren-da has disappeared! (Readers will have seen that his mom, who appears to be white, mistook the heavily bandaged Bren-Da for trash.) Teddy can’t find her anywhere, so he immediately seeks his (horrified) mom’s help. Now it’s up to Teddy and his mom to find Bren-Da. Trimmer’s simple story of a universal experience will captivate young readers and have them rooting for Teddy’s reunion with Bren-Da. Teddy’s problem-solving abilities also serve as a useful model. Valentine’s illustrations bring the story to life with creative depictions of orange-haired, pink-skinned Bren-Da’s style and humorous portrayals of Teddy’s and his mother’s actions. The long list of Teddy’s toys in the beginning of the story may be a little disconcerting for children who don’t have as many. On the positive side, the story gently pushes gender norms by showing a doll as Teddy’s favorite toy and Teddy’s mom as nothing short of a superheroine as she tries to get Bren-Da back.

A heartwarming story that uses an everyday occurrence to push the envelope on many fronts. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8079-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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