A truly brilliant contribution to the genre and a must for any child who has lost a beloved pet.

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PAWS + EDWARD

This picture book, a Canadian import originally published in Norway, tells the story of Paws, a dog, and Edward, a child, who have shared a good life together.

Paws is old and prefers to spend his days sleeping and dreaming, mostly about rabbits, while Edward, his beloved human, cuddles close and reads books. When Edward invites Paws for a walk, Paws goes because, he thinks, “Edward could use some fresh air.” The two are inseparable until the inevitable occurs and Paws falls into a sleep “without dreams.” Edward is so, so sad, but when he finally falls asleep (in the park, on the bench Paws used to lie on) he dreams—of Paws, tail wagging, happy—and readers will be uplifted, understanding that Edward’s love for Paws cannot be erased by death. Johnsen’s warmly hued illustrations give Paws such a large presence that he often spills out over the boundaries of the page—a visual manifestation of the story’s theme of love unconstrained by the boundary of death. Each illustration is a full-bleed double-page spread, a choice that emphasizes expansiveness. Edward’s skin is shown as a different shade on each page, a device that allows Edward to approach universality while visually highlighting, once again, the theme of limitlessness.

A truly brilliant contribution to the genre and a must for any child who has lost a beloved pet. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0135-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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