More from this team would be a welcome addition to folk-tale collections.

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THE CRANE GIRL

A popular Japanese folk tale in which a crane pays back an obligation by becoming human is retold with an unusual ending and with haiku-sprinkled prose.

In this version, Yasuhiro—a young man who lives with Ryota, his embittered, widowed father—carefully frees an enormous crane from a trap pinning its foot to the snow-covered, “sharp buckwheat stubble of the landlord’s field.” As the crane flies away, Yasuhiro heads for home with firewood he has been gathering. Two nights later a beautiful maiden appears at the door, asking for a place to live in exchange for labor. Ryota accepts her offer, warning her that she must work hard and not be lazy or steal. When Ryota’s own attempts to find manual labor dwindle, the maiden, who calls herself Hiroko, offers to weave silk for him to sell, with the caveat that neither he nor Yasuhiro open the door of the weaving room while she is inside. The polished, full-color illustrations, strongly reminiscent of art by the fairy-tale illustrator Adrienne Segur, complement the lyrical text. Interspersed, color-coded haiku reveal the characters’ unspoken thoughts, adding an excellent dimension with potential for drama-group presentations. Although it’s a bit hard to believe that strapping Yasuhiro does little to bring home the tofu, the story otherwise rings satisfyingly true.

More from this team would be a welcome addition to folk-tale collections. (pronunciation guide, author’s notes) (Picture book/folk tale. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-885008-57-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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