Emotionally resonant in the loveliest of ways.

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WALK WITH ME

A lion accompanies a child on a walk home during a day in the city in this wistful tale of parental absence.

The story begins with a simple gesture: a nameless, light-skinned child in a school uniform holds out a flower to a lion. “Keep me company on the way home,” says the child. The lion then follows the child, terrifying adults—and delighting other kids—at school and on the city’s streets all the way home. The pair dashes by crowded buses and cars, stops to pick up the child-narrator’s younger sibling, and even shops at “the store that won’t give us credit anymore.” (Fortunately, the ferocious feline can help with the last difficulty.) At home, things start to settle down as the trio prepares a meal and waits for Mama to return from the factory. The day soon ends, and the lion departs, though the child-narrator hopes it returns when called. Similar to Buitrago and Yockteng’s previous collaborations, the story ends on a poignant and unexpected note. The first-person narration tugs readers along with ease, deftly eliciting compassion from the performance of seemingly mundane tasks. Yockteng’s muted illustrations depict the city as full of cracked buildings, drab colors, and expression captured in movement. Minor details in the pictures, including environmental print in Spanish, take readers in different directions all at once, adding to the low-key narration.

Emotionally resonant in the loveliest of ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-857-0

Page Count: 35

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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