Thoughtfully taps our natural capacity for empathy and kindness in caring for all creatures and our planet.

PANGOLINA

A pangolin advocates for wildlife conservation through her own tale of survival and hope.

Pangolina lives with her mother in a burrow. Textured illustrations detail the pangolins’ scales-plus-hair appearance, engaging readers with expressive eyes whose sparkle also resonates with Ai, a girl who later saves Pangolina following her capture by an animal trafficker. A quick plot exposes facts of life for endangered species in the wild using clear, logical, and sympathetic language accessible to the youngest readers. The atmospheric artwork defines a lush nocturnal habitat and its diverse occupants, including Pangolina’s friends Bat, wild pigs, and “wise Civet.” It’s Civet who dissects the visceral realities of animal trafficking while delving into emotional complexities that reveal the interconnectedness between animals and humans. Complementary verbal and visual narratives are compelling in their sophisticated simplicity, which offers layers of meaning, teaching moments, and opportunities for reflection. Case in point is Ai’s name, which can be: the (Mandarin) Chinese word for love; a homonym for eye—the shining feature on most spreads suggesting windows to these animals’ souls; a homonym for the English first-person pronoun demonstrating everyone’s potential to make a difference. Comprehensive aftermatter details pangolin facts, practical action items, and resources for all ages. Human characters have tan or brown skin and dark hair with various textures; one child uses a wheelchair.

Thoughtfully taps our natural capacity for empathy and kindness in caring for all creatures and our planet. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-6626-5040-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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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

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