A fine addition to the positive-thinking shelf.

READ REVIEW

KAT WRITES A SONG

Does Kat’s song actually “make things better”?

One dismal, rainy day, Kat, a gray tabby kitten with white socks and a pink nose, decides that she’s going to write a song. It’s hard work. When she’s done, she calls it the “Amazing Song to Make Things Better”—and after she sings it, the sun comes out. Thinking it was her song that improved the weather, Kat walks down the street singing. The song must be magic, because the sun comes out from behind a cloud, Dog doesn’t bark at her for a change, and Turtle finds his last missing sock. However, Kat’s song doesn’t fix Bunny’s broken skateboard; maybe the song isn’t magic. Bird sees Kat feeling low (she’s sprawled, supine, on the grass with her guitar beside her and a woeful look on her face) and knows the perfect fix: all her animal buddies singing Kat’s song to her! Foley’s digitally created, soft-toned, cartoon illustrations of happy, pudgy animals in a tidy, suburban setting pair nicely with his gentle, musical tale about self-doubt and making the world a little brighter. Front endpapers feature the music to Kat’s song, all the words of which are “meow meow meow,” with the translation to English on the rear endpapers.

A fine addition to the positive-thinking shelf. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0680-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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