A good story and thoroughly engaging art that flows organically from it; two attractive siblings in a recognizable setting;...

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A FEW BITES

There's wondrous art in the service of little brothers in this follow-up to A Few Blocks (2011).

Viola has made lunch for her little brother Ferdie: broccoli, carrot sticks, ravioli. Ferdie is consumed with the desire to find a missing toy part, but Viola promises to help him find it after he eats. Ferdie does not want this lunch. But then Viola launches into a brilliant saga of dinosaurs who could climb mountains and scale volcanoes so long as they ate 5,000 broccolis a day. This plays out in full color around the delicate little black-and-white sketches of brother and sister, fabulous paper sculptures of the children, dinosaurs, mountains and forests overlaying the original domestic scene. Ferdie eats three bites. Then he balks at the carrot sticks. Viola begins again, with aliens and their Orange Power Sticks, and after the second explosion of color, line and story, he eats them all up. But the ravioli is cold now, and although Viola launches a wild and splendid story—fish this time—she falters at the end. The images return to black and white, and Viola plugs in her earphones. She’s done. But Ferdie has an idea, in color, and it works out very well indeed.

A good story and thoroughly engaging art that flows organically from it; two attractive siblings in a recognizable setting; a winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55498-295-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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