Sweetly celebrates artistic bonding in the Big Apple.

READ REVIEW

HERMAN AND ROSIE

In bustling New York, anthropomorphic croc Herman and Rosie (a goat?) inhabit parallel lives until they discover they’re soul mates.

They live in tiny apartments in adjacent buildings. Herman plays oboe and sells “things” in a call center—until he’s canned for not selling enough of them. Rosie’s a restaurant dishwasher who takes singing lessons and gigs at a jazz club on Thursdays—until it’s shuttered. In pictures and text, Gordon cleverly foretells the pair’s entwined destiny, engaging readers conspiratorially as Herman and Rosie continually almost connect. Each, hearing the other’s music by chance, is mesmerized for days. Both love “watching films about the ocean” and turn to Cousteau documentaries for solace after their twin career setbacks. Traipsing the city (Gordon provides a map and key for their concurrent rambles), they simultaneously buy hot dogs from the same vendor—without meeting. Finally, Rosie hears “the familiar sounds of a groovy little jazz number” and leaps “to follow that tune.” The penultimate double-page spread shows them meeting—at last!—on Herman’s roof against a luminous full moon. The final page shows they’ve formed a quartet—The Cousteaus. Gordon utilizes vintage postcards, ledgers and maps to create collaged tableaux. Evocative of William Steig and Bernard Waber, the pictures at their best juxtapose New York’s duality: its cacophonous enormity and charming intimacy.

Sweetly celebrates artistic bonding in the Big Apple. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-856-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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