NANCY KNOWS

Nancy is an elephant who has forgotten something, and she just can’t remember what it could be.

She uses all the tricks she can as she struggles to come up with the missing information, but nothing works. She thinks of clothes, things with wheels, colors, things that fly, food, and all kinds of other odds and ends and ideas just out of reach. It is only when she relaxes and stops thinking about it that she remembers a play date at the park. The slight tale is charming, but it is merely the vehicle for a truly beautiful and unique visual tour de force. Young creates delicately worked, detailed illustrations of the things Nancy does remember and sorts them into a wide variety of categories shown within graphite-pencil outlines of Nancy’s elephantine body in front, back, overhead and sideways perspectives. She appears standing or rearing, sleeping or sitting. Things are remembered neatly or jumbled up; sights, sounds and smells are recalled, as well as places and objects, all in interesting juxtapositions. Each item is a tiny, intricate sculpture made with Japanese papers. Colorful shapes in abstract design and amazingly detailed, seemingly three-dimensional objects demand intense, close examination, and fingers will tingle with the wish to lift them off the page. It’s a work to be shared in wonderment and delight.

Pure fascination. (Picture book. 3-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77049-482-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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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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