The twist at the end is both humorous and instructional; adults will hope children see and heed its message.

MANNERS ARE NOT FOR MONKEYS

The monkey cage’s change of venue—to a spot near the picnic area—causes its inhabitants to learn human manners, but some just can’t stand for that.

The young monkeys are fascinated by the children outside their cage. And they quickly pick up on the ways the kids and parents interact. It’s not long before the monkeys are chewing with their mouths closed, taking turns, playing quietly, and tidying up. This drives their exasperated mother bananas: “TRY TO BEHAVE LIKE MONKEYS!” But each time they try to make her happy, they are deprived of watching the children’s antics; the fascinated kids either stop to watch the monkeys or the monkeys lose their concentration. But one day, a wild group of children visits the zoo. They are mystified by the unmonkeylike behavior of the monkeys and set out to show them what to do. When the zookeeper sees this, she understands she’s made a terrible mistake. Readers will expect her to move the monkey cage back to its original location, but her solution will have parents nodding in understanding and spark children’s laughter. Huyck’s digitally colored pencil illustrations play up the humor of the monkeys’ well-mannered behavior, and small details add to the fun—look for the monkey with a banana-peel tie and an age-old joke. The families are nicely diverse, and the zookeeper is a middle-aged white woman with a gray ponytail.

The twist at the end is both humorous and instructional; adults will hope children see and heed its message. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-051-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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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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