This will provide both reassurance to children missing their own loved ones and ideas for staying connected.

LOVE, MAMA

A package in the mail helps a baby penguin know that his mother loves him even though miles separate them.

Kipling’s Mama has to go on a trip (where and why are never explained), and he misses her, especially at dinner and at bedtime. The next morning, he tries some clever surrogates, “But Pillow Mama wouldn’t read, / Picture Mama wouldn’t laugh… // …and Snow Mama was too cold to cuddle.” (Pillow Mama is a square cushion with glasses that look like Mama’s perched on top.) And though Kipling wishes for Mama on each of his wishing rocks, all he gets is a soggy box—but it’s from Mama! It contains treasures for Kipling as well as a paper heart expressing Mama’s love and a picture of her hugging that heart. Kipling immediately sets out to make Mama her own care package, and before he knows it, she’s back, his package tucked under her wing. Roly-poly Kipling belongs to a family of chinstrap penguins. All the animals are anthropomorphized, from the penguins’ house and Kipling’s red boots to all the species—Arctic terns, pelicans, whales, and seals—that are involved in delivering the packages (some even punch a time clock!). The artwork works with the spare text to keep the focus on how Kipling is feeling; readers are sure to empathize.

This will provide both reassurance to children missing their own loved ones and ideas for staying connected. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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