No matter; readers will all be rooting for P. Petunia. (Picture book. 4-8)

SCAPEGOAT

THE STORY OF A GOAT NAMED OAT AND A CHEWED-UP COAT

There is nothing quite like giving a goat grief. That is, after all, why they are called goats. And the young protagonist in Hale’s mostly rhymed tale drapes all manner of blame on the horns of the family goat.

"Where is your coat?" Mrs. Choat asks her son, Jimmy when he comes breezing through in his shirtsleeves. The family’s goat, Patsy Petunia Oat, answers for him—“He left it in the park”—but since the Choats didn’t speak Goat, Jimmy blithely says: “My coat? It was eaten by P. Petunia Oat.” He blames everything on her: the lost TV remote, the boogers in the tote, the baby’s broken boat, her own shaved throat. That is until the day neighbor Sproat, who happens to be fluent in Goat, provides Mr. and Mrs. Choat with the goat’s-eye view, and Jimmy sets about eating a little crow. The wordplay here is enjoyable—“On Friday, Baby Choat’s boat would not stay afloat, and Mama asked Jim, ‘Did you break Baby’s blue boat?’ The Choat goat, Patsy P. Oat, raised her head and said, ‘He hit it with a rock’ ”—and there is a neat double comeuppance at the end, though neither approach incandescence. Slack’s Photoshop/collage artwork is attractively involving, edging toward Lane Smith but stopping short of his spidery spookiness.

No matter; readers will all be rooting for P. Petunia. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59990-468-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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 must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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