Warm and offbeat. (Picture book. 4-7)

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HERE COMES HORTENSE!

With Nana, every trip is an adventure, and sometimes a lesson.

Nana and her new husband, Bob, drive up in their bright orange van. They're planning to take the unnamed young narrator to WonderWorld, where he rides the mild Teacups while Nana favors the Wild Mouse. Mostly, he just craves some time alone with Nana. But the duo has another surprise for him: Bob's granddaughter Hortense, who is about his age and as adventurous as Nana. While Nana and Hortense ride the Landslide and the Mixmaster, the downcast lad mostly sits on a bench with Bob. "This is turning out to be the worst surprise ever!" Late that night, with Hortense and Nana in one room and him and Bob in another, he's hoping that Bob will sing "Lavender's Blue" to him like Nana does, but Bob falls quickly into a deep, snoring sleep. The next day starts on the same dark note but takes an abrupt turn when Hortense and the little boy begin talking, and she shares an identical disappointment at having little time with Bob. The two children forge a new friendship. Hartt-Sussman's narrative touch is deft. Graham's chalk pastels, a wacky delight from start to finish, bring appropriate lift to what could be a melancholy story. Her characters are uniquely quirky yet have a streak of photographic realism.

Warm and offbeat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77049-221-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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