A sensitive portrayal of international adoption, authentically and realistically done.

GOYANGI MEANS CAT

This beautifully illustrated, gentle adoption story stands out from most other treatments of the topic by honestly and reassuringly addressing the loss—of a birth family, a birth culture—inherent in adoption as well as the joy a new family experiences.

Here, Soo Min, a young Korean girl, is adopted by an American couple. Everything seems strange and new: She doesn't speak any English; her adoptive parents know little Korean. She finds comfort with Goyangi ("cat"), who doesn't need language to communicate, whose fur she strokes when afraid and who "licked her hand with his towelly tongue" when she is homesick for Korea. Soft-focus collage-and-paint illustrations show the family members getting to know one another: at the playground, in the library, playing soccer and just spending time at home together. Korean words in hanja (characters) incorporated into the pictures' backgrounds and the presence of Korean words in the Western alphabet interspersed throughout the text make this an excellent choice to share with children like Soo Min; seeing the words in both languages comforts as well as educates. Soo Min's age isn't specified; she looks about 2 or 3, which is older than most Korean children adopted in the United States, but that doesn't take away from the main idea.

A sensitive portrayal of international adoption, authentically and realistically done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01179-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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