An accessible, heartwarming book for readers of all lineages.

THE BEAR'S MEDICINE / SUS YOO

In this bilingual story, a mother bear teaches her cubs how to live in relationship to the land.

Emphasizing gratitude, interdependence, and ancestry, Cree/Dakelh author and artist Gauthier conveys the wisdom of growing up and cultural inheritance through the movements of a bear family. Upon waking (perhaps from hibernation), the parent and cubs meet a world rich with the medicine of food, water, and beauty—an orientation that will resonate among many Indigenous readers. English words are placed beneath Alexis and Austin’s Dakelh translation, centering the First Nations language and cultural perspective. Gauthier’s bold images illuminate the mountains, rivers, and fellow creatures that co-create the bears’ world, strong patterns that attest to his background as a carver establishing solidity and also creating harmonious connections among pictorial elements. As the narrative progresses through the seasons, readers are treated to a bear’s-eye view of nature, evoked in a voice that has long been excluded from children’s literature. The salmon that feed the bears, for example, are uplifted as “new family” to be greeted “with honour”; snow is “the white blanket [that] will keep our medicine warm.” Valuable for its rich imagery and simple yet multifaceted storytelling, this stands as a beautifully told, #ownvoices offering that focuses less on plot and more on fascinating concepts.

An accessible, heartwarming book for readers of all lineages. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-926886-57-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Theytus Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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