An incandescent, humane and terribly necessary addition to the immigrant-story shelf

PANCHO RABBIT AND THE COYOTE

A MIGRANT'S TALE

A brilliant modern fable—eloquent, hopeful and heart-rending—about a rabbit family whose members cross the border in search of a better life, and each other.

Drought forces Papá Rabbit to leave for the great carrot and lettuce fields of the north, hoping to make money for his family. Years pass, but when he doesn’t arrive home on the appointed day, his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, sets out to find him. Heading north, he meets a coyote who promises a shortcut in return for food. At each step of their treacherous journey, the coyote demands more food in exchange for Pancho’s safe passage. The food finally all gone, Pancho is about to be consumed when Papá Rabbit rescues him. Reunited, Pancho learns all the money Papá saved for the family was stolen by a crow gang. Pancho guides them home, but happiness is short-lived, as the family must decide who will—and how to—return north if the rains still refuse to come. Textured earth tones are digitally collaged to create Pancho’s world, where the river’s darkness and desert’s sweltering heat are inescapable. Geometric shapes define the characters’ faces, making them reminiscent of Aztec stone carvings. But Tonatiuh’s great strength is in the text. No word is wasted, as each emotion is clearly and poignantly expressed. The rabbits’ future is unknown, but their love and faith in each other sustains them through it all. Accessible for young readers, who may be drawn to it as they would a classic fable; perfect for mature readers and the classroom, where its layers of truth and meaning can be peeled back to be examined and discussed.

An incandescent, humane and terribly necessary addition to the immigrant-story shelf . (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0583-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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