Too many holes to create a whole.

OUR WORLD IS WHOLE

A picture-book reflection on interconnectedness.

An unnamed child of color describes connections observed in the surrounding world. Unfortunately, the narratorial voice rings false as that of a child, and the connections articulated are oblique, at best. The opening text, in keeping with the title, describes the world as “whole. Every day. When we believe it to be so.” But how is this wholeness supported by the fact that “Uncle Harry believes that my birthday card is always late because he sends it from Providence on a turtle’s back”? This attempt at textual whimsy, as well as others at profundity, falls flat as the child recounts the beliefs of a neighbor (who finds satisfaction in navigating the aisles of the grocery store), a cousin (who enjoys cooking heaps of tamales), a cat (who takes pleasure in napping on open books), and their own parents but never reveals how they achieve wholeness singly or together. Indeed, the child’s father’s delight in playing baseball with people who are not his family members stands in dramatic contrast to their mother’s belief that family is of utmost importance. Illustrations with a flat aesthetic evoking paper dolls are more successful in at least delivering a portrait of a mixed-race child beloved by family and secure in the world, but that world may well remain baffling to readers.

Too many holes to create a whole. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1027-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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