The clever premise of this well-worked-out story is likely to appeal as much to adults as to the children they get to share...

ANIMALS DON'T, SO I WON'T!

A knowledgeable mother turns the tables on her balky son by pointing out what animals DO.

As the appealing cover shows, animal-loving Ben likes to pretend he’s wild himself. He won't clean his room until his mother reminds him that as a beetle, he'll have to clean up elephant dung. He pretends to be a penguin that won’t eat his lasagna until his mother pretends to barf up fish for him. And so forth. The animals and their actions are well-chosen for child appeal. Pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor wash combine realistic images with the fantasy of this parent-child game. Both the people and the creatures in Derrick's art have plenty of attitude. The pace of storytelling varies. Most episodes take two double-page spreads, but others conclude more quickly. Although the narrative threatens to end predictably, with baby chimps rocking in their bedtime nests, there’s a surprise: Dawn comes early for roosters. The parent-child dialogue is indicated by different typefaces, and the illustrations include irresistible animal noises from Bzztt! to Oohh Eee Ooh, just asking for repeat listeners to chime in.

The clever premise of this well-worked-out story is likely to appeal as much to adults as to the children they get to share it with. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59702-029-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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 fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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