A beautifully illustrated tale of self-acceptance.

A TIGER WITHOUT STRIPES

In this modern fable, a young tiger leaves her family to find a way to earn the stripes she was not given at birth.

On her own, the tiger braves the blazing sun, the dark forest, and a rainstorm in search of her stripes, but each time when what she believes are stripes appear—shadows, scrapes, streaks of mud—they soon disappear. Finally, she climbs as high as she can and screams into the sky, demanding an answer as to why she was not given stripes like every other tiger and what she must do to earn them. In response, a voice tells the tiger that it gives all tigers stripes as a gift and that they do not have to earn them. Perplexed, she slips off alone and ponders what, if anything, is her gift. The next morning, the tiger ascends back to the high place and says, “Thank you,” to the sky for the gift that she realizes she was given: her striving. Through warm washes of orange and yellow, trees, bushes, and leaves take on the appearance of tiger stripes, a treat for observant readers. The disembodied voice in the sky is never named or explained, leaving readers to ponder it along with the tiger’s understanding of her unique gift—a lesson readers may not need to struggle as hard as the tiger to achieve but is still gently oblique.

A beautifully illustrated tale of self-acceptance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943147-71-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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