Much needed in the landscape of family-oriented picture books.

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MY MADDY

A loving, celebratory window into a young child’s relationship with their nonbinary parent.

The latest in Pitman’s LGBTQ books for children introduces young readers to a parent whose gender identity and expression are “entirely fantastically their own”—not a mommy or a daddy, but “my Maddy.” Told from the perspective of a light-skinned, redheaded child, the story normalizes what’s “in between, and kind of both,” which is everywhere in nature, from dawn (“it’s not day and it’s not night,” Maddy explains) to the color hazel (a mix between green and brown). Vignettes from the main characters’ everyday lives are vibrantly depicted in artist Tobacco’s bold, full-bleed illustrations, including walks to school, snacktime, and stories before bed. Particularly noteworthy is the heartwarming scene when Maddy kisses their kid goodbye before dropping them off at school: Beside a glowing portrait of the beaming family, the text reads, “Maddy’s kisses feel like sandpaper against my face.” Such positive images of gender-nonconforming presentations are rare in children’s literature, making this a valuable addition to any school, public, or personal library for its engaging art and accessible representation for a wide age range. The adult-oriented backmatter uses person-first language and identifies the book’s inspiration as intersex; notes on intersex identity and supporting children in understanding their parents’ genders are accompanied by resources. Unfortunately, one of these is the Human Rights Campaign, known for its fraught relationship with trans communities.

Much needed in the landscape of family-oriented picture books. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3044-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun.

A IS FOR ANOTHER RABBIT

An obsessed narrator creates an alphabet book overrun with rabbits, much to the chagrin of an owl who wants to create a “proper, respectable” alphabet book.

The picture book begins, “A is for A rabbit,” an illustration of a large brown rabbit taking up most of the recto. The owl protagonist—presumably the co-creator of the book—points out that “rabbit” begins with “R.” “Yes, but “a rabbit” starts with A,” says the narrator, before moving on to “B is for bunny,” which, as the owl points out, is just another name for rabbit. Despite the owl’s mounting frustration, the narrator genially narrates several rabbits into existence on almost every single page, rendered with such variety that readers will find their proliferation endlessly amusing. The letter D, for instance, introduces readers to “delightful, dynamic, daredevil RABBITS!” (a herd of biker rabbits), and although the narrator says “E is for Elephant” (which momentarily satisfies the owl), the image depicts several rabbits poorly disguised as an elephant. Much to the owl’s chagrin and, ultimately, exhaustion, the narrator grows more and more creative in their presentation of their favorite animal as the picture book proceeds down a rabbit hole of…well, rabbits! Batsel’s debut picture book for readers already familiar with the English alphabet is funny and highly entertaining. The whimsical narrative and the colorful images make this an excellent elementary-age read-aloud.

Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun. (Picture book. 4-8)/p>)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to...

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DRAWN TOGETHER

The power of art takes center stage in this cleverly titled story of a Thai-speaking grandfather connecting to his assimilated American grandson.

The title page introduces readers to a sullen-faced Asian boy as he walks up to a door and rings the bell. After a traditional bow of greeting, the grandfather, dressed like Mr. Rogers in a white shirt and red sweater, wordlessly welcomes the grandson inside. In paneled artwork, the two unsuccessfully attempt conversation over dinner, with the grandfather speaking in Thai script and the boy speaking in English. Sitting in the uncomfortable silence that cultural divides create, the awkward boy finally walks away to doodle on paper. He draws a wizard with a wand and a conical red hat. Grandpa, recognizing this creative outlet, fetches a sketchbook and, surprisingly, draws his version of a wizard: a tightly detailed warrior clothed in traditional Thai ceremonial dress. The young boy is amazed, marveling that “we see each other for the first time.” The two begin a battle of imagination, wands and paintbrushes thrashing like swords. One draws in energetic colorful cartoons, the other with fierce black-and-white, precisely brushed drawings. Santat elevates their newfound shared passion into energetic, layered, and complex designs, separate and entwined at the same time. They clash with the dragon that divides them and build a new world together “that even words can’t describe.”

Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to connect and the joy of sharing the creative process. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6760-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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