Quality storytelling and beautiful art allow a likable protagonist to shine.

MEET MISS FANCY

A young boy helps raise money to bring an elephant to his town, but will he get to touch it like the other children do?

Frank can’t wait to welcome Miss Fancy to her new home in nearby Avondale Park. But a sign stops him: “No Colored Allowed.” He climbs a tree and tosses peanuts to Miss Fancy, but it isn’t close enough. He can’t bring himself to break the law by entering the park. He asks the Rev. Brooks what he can do. They decide to write a letter asking the city to allow their congregation to have a Sunday picnic at the park. They get plenty of signatures, and their request is approved, but then the Rev. Brooks brings the sad news to Frank that they won’t have the picnic after all, because “ ‘there could be trouble.’…‘Trouble’ meant black people could be hurt or worse.” Finally, Frank ingeniously finds a way to lead Miss Fancy out of the park and then back. For returning her, he is rewarded with his dream. Readers will feel for Frank from the first page; his singular goal is a brilliant vehicle for making the injustice of segregation concrete for young readers while telling an interesting story based on historical events (as described in an author’s note). Holyfield’s skillful artwork uses complex color blends, light, and shadow with stylized form to create memorable characters and scenes. Unfortunately, while the upbeat ending is good for Frank, it elides the decades of Jim Crow that followed the events of the story.

Quality storytelling and beautiful art allow a likable protagonist to shine. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-54668-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 23

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more