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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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