There is no sense of a Deaf community, and Reena’s plot-driven relationship to the hearing children raises questions about...

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REENA'S RAINBOW

A deaf white girl is sad when she perceives her difference.

“In Reena’s world, sounds scattered and scrambled and made no sense.” She finds a companion in a little brown dog that joins the kids’ playtime in the park. Dog shows the children (a racially diverse bunch) the best places to hide, but Reena always finds them. When it’s her turn to hide, nobody can find her, and she ends up alone because she can’t hear them calling her. When Reena asks her mother why she is different, she signs back: “We are like the colours of the rainbow. We are all different.” The platitude doesn’t make Reena feel better. She decides she must be periwinkle blue, which isn’t a rainbow color, and feels uncomfortably different until the day she spots a falling tree branch and screams, alerting Dog, who jumps and knocks a playmate out of the way. Now she and Dog are part of the rainbow. Reena’s emotions are gently portrayed, and the illustrations softly match the tone of the storyline, doing a particularly good job at developing the relationship between Dog and Reena. Though the rainbow device seems forced and the resolution simplified, all kids are likely to relate to the feeling of being left out.

There is no sense of a Deaf community, and Reena’s plot-driven relationship to the hearing children raises questions about the book’s audience: is it for kids like Reena or her hearing playmates? (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-925335-49-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: EK Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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