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

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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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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