An artful plea for emotional acceptance. (Picture book. 5-8)

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WHEN MOLLY DREW DOGS

Imaginations run quite literally wild for a young girl.

A measured, soft voice narrates, “On the night before the first day of school, a pack of stray dogs moved into Molly Akita’s head. / They were friendly. But a bit wild.” Molly finds the only way to manage her emotions, manifested as the rowdy pups that swirl around her room, is to draw them. Quickly the pack of canines run beyond her sketchbook onto moving boxes at home as well as onto the chalkboard and work at school. Her teacher, Ms. Shepherd, gets impatient, “but Molly’s dogs were stubborn. They needed to run free.” After receiving a teacher’s note, Molly’s grandmother hires a tutor, but he too declares, “No dogs allowed!” Grasping for control and acceptance, Molly runs, trailed by her sketched dogs and getting lost in the rain, and takes shelter in a shed. Pulling out her chalk, she draws coats for her companions. They in turn protect and comfort her when she grows fearful. Molly is Japanese, as denoted by her surname and dark hair and eyes. Xu uses darkly hued colored pencils that bring a textured somber tone to the story. In a twist, when Ms. Shepherd finds Molly, she tells her a robber was scared off in the area by coat-wearing dogs. With this validation, Kerbel deftly crafts a gentle argument for more empathy for others and yourself.

An artful plea for emotional acceptance. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-338-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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