An exquisite treasure for bashful readers, animal lovers, and anyone who’s ever wanted a friend.

READ REVIEW

SHY

Someone extremely shy finds a friend.

Shy (his name as well as his defining characteristic) is happiest “between the pages of a book.” This is both metaphorical—he’s happiest when reading his stack of bird books—and literal: Shy isn’t depicted on the page, and a thin arrow indicates he’s hiding in the spine of Freedman’s book. The illustrations show tiny rocks, bits of grass, faint airborne bubbles and musical notes—and a small yellow bird who perches on the stack of books, capturing Shy’s whole heart with her song. He’s too bashful to reveal himself, but when she departs, he follows. Only his footsteps can be seen. Shy journeys across landscapes to the ocean, seeing animals—walrus, elephant, aardvark, hippo, whale—and, finally, his bird. Again, he can’t speak. She disappears; he heads home, heartbroken. But she flies by, and this time, Shy emerges from the book’s spine to greet her—musically. This is the first time readers see who he is, though in hindsight, they’ll realize he may have appeared earlier. Freedman’s fine pencil lines, graceful animals, superb compositions, and spare text are virtuosic, but the backgrounds are the soul of Shy’s tale: breathtaking watercolor washes blend hues softly from one section of the natural color spectrum to another, opaquely connoting desert, mountains, skies, dawn, and night.

An exquisite treasure for bashful readers, animal lovers, and anyone who’s ever wanted a friend. (Picture book. 3-7, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47496-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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