A novel hero and a novel way to introduce a new generation to an old saying.

MR. NOGGINBODY GETS A HAMMER

Mr. Nogginbody learns that no matter how nail-shaped a problem may appear, a hammer isn’t always the solution.

Starring in this absurdist adaptation of the adage about hammer and nails is daft Mr. Nogginbody. Proud of his initial success hammering a nail into his floor, Mr. Nogginbody decides to similarly remedy more problems, comically whacking naillike objects—showerheads, flowers, and (thankfully speedy) prairie dogs. After taking careful aim at a fly but hitting his own hat, he is struck with the epiphany that “not everything is a nail” and sweetly begins making amends, beginning with a new tool—a watering can to tend the flowers he crushed. Both the eponymous star of Shannon’s earlier David books and Mr. Nogginbody are kindhearted despite their predilection for chaos, and they exude a certain manic energy through their eccentric looks. Mr. Nogginbody appears to be a giant, egg-shaped head but is proportioned as though he were typically human: A tie is his nose, his arms swing askew, and a hat sits jauntily, if jarringly, just where the lapels of his shirt meet. Shannon’s signature breezy lines, keen sense of when to zoom in on a face or emphasize a zany moment, swaths of bright color among mostly black-and-white sketches, and casually uneven, hand-lettering keep it looking and feeling bright.

A novel hero and a novel way to introduce a new generation to an old saying. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-324-00344-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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