This may not help similarly shy kids, but it may give readers some inspiration.

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MIRABEL'S MISSING VALENTINES

A shy mouse gains some courage and some new friends, bringing the town together in the process.

Mirabel has always been very shy, but nevertheless she crafts homemade cards for her classmates for Valentine’s Day. The nervous girl forces her steps toward school but fails to notice the hole in her bag that lets the cards drop one by one in front of delighted townspeople: a lonely old woman with an empty mailbox, workers digging a hole, a father with a child, a gummed-up jogger, and “A garbage man enduring / yet another rotten smell / chuckled as he grabbed a scrap / before the scooper fell” (the only awkward line in the otherwise spot-on rhyming verse). But they all hear Mirabel cry out when she discovers her empty bag, and they return the cards: “Thanks for sharing them with us, / if only for a while.” That boost of confidence gets Mirabel through her class party, and on her walk home, her collection grows as her new friends add their own cards. Opening endpapers show Mirabel’s path to school and the local folks she will cross paths with; in the closing ones, the folks are now interacting with one another, lonely no more. Mueller’s digital artwork shows a town full of cuddly anthropomorphic animals. Mirabel is a white mouse.

This may not help similarly shy kids, but it may give readers some inspiration. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2739-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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