The simple storyline and art complement each other as readers are gently guided to comprehend the folly of judging a book by...

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ADRIFT

AN ODD COUPLE OF POLAR BEARS

What happens when the loudest (and smelliest) polar bear finds himself stuck on an ice floe with the quietest and most fastidious polar bear? They build a wall!

Neither Karl nor Hazel wants to have anything to do with the other, but as the ice steadily melts, they get closer and closer both literally and figuratively. Soon they’re playing games, singing songs, and fishing together. As their frozen chunk of real estate shrinks to a standing-room-only platform, they sight land and gleefully jump ashore. Taking off in separate directions, Karl inexplicably searches for fish. (Hasn’t he just left behind a fish-filled ocean?) Hazel, on the other hand, wants to explore and sit by herself. It doesn’t take long before the suddenly lonely bears call out to each other from across the vast new wilderness and reunite, even becoming roommates. The resolution, however pleasing, feels rushed, as the bears jump straight from realizing they’re friends to sharing living quarters. Olien’s palette of blues and stark white offset by bold, black outlines convincingly conjures the chilly Arctic landscape. Round, horn-rimmed glasses and a cheesy smile bring Karl’s gregarious personality to life, and Hazel’s reticent demeanor is nicely paired with an orange polka-dot scarf. Classroom-friendly facts and links about polar bears, climate change, and the Arctic are appended.

The simple storyline and art complement each other as readers are gently guided to comprehend the folly of judging a book by its cover. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245177-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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