Sincere but overreaches a bit.

I AM A KINDNESS HERO

From the I Am a Warrior Goddess series

A young child embodies the many facets of kindness in this affirming read.

A repetitive mantra of “I am” introduces text that demonstrates how the main character engages in acts of kindness that benefit those around them: “I am a kindness hero. / I am a defender of animals…. / I am helpful. / I am patient.” These broad and sometimes-ambiguous proclamations are accompanied by illustrations that provide context and present audience-friendly scenes of generosity toward the Earth, animals, and other humans. The child’s community-focused efforts include protecting insects by building them a nesting box, helping an elder cross the street, and confronting a bully on behalf of a smaller child. Turning inward, the main character acknowledges overcoming jealousy and listening sympathetically as internal processes that respond to others with compassion. These accessible examples reassure readers that kindness empowers the enactor through actions both large and small. While these behaviors may lead to positive outcomes, the text inflates the effect of kindness, concluding that “all the people who I meet…will know they are loved.” A soothing color palette grounded in muted greens reinforces the gentle, uplifting tone of the book. The main character has black hair, brown skin, and blue eyes. Secondary characters are represented in a variety of skin tones.

Sincere but overreaches a bit. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68364-472-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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