Younger readers will relish the merriment; older readers may find deeper meaning.

READ REVIEW

FUZZY, FURRY HAT

Delessert’s signature surreal style is an apt accompaniment to a story inspired by Edward Lear.

Perched atop a 1,000-year-old beech tree is a lonely bear. More fantastical than realistic, this bear sports the titular “fuzzy, furry hat” bedecked with ribbons and bells. When the bear gives the hat a shake, the jingling attracts cardinals, who land on its head and enjoy the “fuzzy grass.” Soon a wild assortment of animals follows, from tiny, airborn alligators and elephants to sizable butterflies and flying fish, and they begin to make more music and build homes on the hat. This whimsical and vibrantly illustrated scenario derives from Edward Lear’s nonsense poem “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat,” in which an imaginary creature rests atop a funny tree and draws an equally outrageous mix of animals with the music of its hat. Here Delessert departs from the original and adds to the story as a few giant raindrops turn into a deluge that lasts for months. During the rain, the animals make the best of their situation, hunkering down together and shielding one another as they can. Up high and safe in the hat, they rejoice with music once again when the sun returns. Readers of Delessert’s previous picture books will recognize many familiar creatures as well as some that are named in Lear’s poem.

Younger readers will relish the merriment; older readers may find deeper meaning. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56846-296-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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