Onyefulu stresses the similarities between kids in Africa and those in Britain or the United States in very simple language,...

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NEW SHOES FOR HELEN

Buying new shoes is a peak experience for many little girls, but selecting shoes for a wedding takes the cake. 

Helen, an Ethiopian preschooler, tries on several pairs of shoes in bright colors: red patent-leather Mary Janes, yellow thongs, shiny black pumps with bows and brown sandals with shell decorations. She isn’t satisfied until she takes a trip to the market with her mother and brother. There, Helen finds her dream shoes, intense turquoise, with rhinestone embellishments. While some adults may look askance at the child’s choice, she is convinced that they will look just right for her auntie’s wedding. The photos of middle-class urban life are a sharp and welcome contrast to many images of East Africa, but they suffer from drab design: The thin pinkish frames surrounding them don’t provide distinctive contrast from the generous white borders. Meant for the youngest readers, such lines as “Will Helen ever find the shoes she likes?” or “Lucky Helen!” sound stilted. All in all, this effort lacks the excitement of the author’s photo essays set in Nigeria, making this an additional choice for those looking for easy books about different countries.

Onyefulu stresses the similarities between kids in Africa and those in Britain or the United States in very simple language, but the quotidian treatment doesn't give the subject enough pizzazz. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84780-128-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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