WHAT ARE YOU?

An insufficient attempt to address the complexity of identity.

A puppy play date leads to an uncomfortable question.

Though the dogs—a puggle and two poodle siblings—are having fun, the play stops abruptly when the poodles ask the puggle, “What are you?” Unsatisfied by the puggle’s answer of “dog,” the poodles inquire about the puggle’s parents—a combination of pug mother and beagle father—and attempt to justify their preconceived notions about pugs and beagles. The puggle disrupts the stereotypes by turning the question back on the poodles, asking what they are good at (many things) and if this is because of their breed. Affirming that their abilities are not intrinsic but are the result of interest and effort, the poodles realize the same is true of the puggle. The friends play once more until they notice two White human children asking the same question of a brown child; the poodles offer to disrupt the interaction. Trimmer endeavors to confront, and possibly reclaim, a dehumanizing question. Coupled with Curato’s soft, muted illustrations, the book may appeal to families seeking an indirect approach to conversations about identity. However, the work only grazes the surface when it comes to the experiences of biracial people and other people of color. Further, the choice to use purebred poodles and a designer mixed-breed dog as stand-ins for, respectively, White children and a biracial child may introduce more stereotypes than it breaks down—namely, the idea that biracial people are exotic or other. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An insufficient attempt to address the complexity of identity. (discussion questions for children and caregivers) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78602-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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