A necessary and entertaining approach to conflict resolution.

HOW TO APOLOGIZE

A primer on contrition.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” opens this guide to accountability. Every page shows a different situation in which someone owes another an apology: when a penguin parachutes into an alligator’s bathroom during bathtime, when student politicians trade jabs, when a giraffe has borrowed a worm’s socks without asking, or when a chicken breaks a goat’s violin. All the characters are soft-edged anthropomorphic animals: a taunting hyena, a snail speeding past a sloth, two ancient tortoises. In Wohnoutka’s light gouache illustrations, the many full-bleed spreads and careful use of white space keep the tone friendly and focused. Without ever feeling preachy or prescriptive, the calm, even, nonjudgmental tone reminds readers that “apologizing can be hard,” but it’s important to be sincere and simple without making excuses. The perfect balance of humor and gravity delivers the message in an appealing way, and even the most outlandish scenarios are accessible. Most of the scenes are entire little stories in and of themselves while a couple have slightly longer resolutions. Children and adults alike can see themselves in both the aggrieved party and the wrongdoer, all presented with understanding and compassion. Equally useful as a lesson on social-emotional dynamics and as a story, this book has a place on every shelf.

A necessary and entertaining approach to conflict resolution. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0944-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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