Heartbreaking and hopeful, innocent and wise, a gentle story about healing and finding connection—both in the past and...

READ REVIEW

BOATS FOR PAPA

An anthropomorphic beaver child makes driftwood boats and sets them to sea, hoping they’ll reach his father, who has passed away.

Buckley and his mama “didn’t have much, but they always had each other.” Their house by the ocean is small and spare, but because of this, items of great import are visible: a family portrait, a snapshot of a moment at the beach, Buckley’s artwork. Buckley spends his days exploring the beach, finding serenity and joy in the natural world. From its driftwood he makes a boat for Papa, casting it off on his birthday with a note: “For Papa. Love Buckley.” This physical connection, with its message of love and longing, inspires Buckley to continue to create. With practice and care he learns to make wondrous boats, sending his best ones to Papa. Repeat reads reveal how deeply Mama treasures and supports Buckley, how much she wants to make life beautiful and full of wonder for him, and how much he appreciates her in turn. The simplicity of the artwork enhances the quiet, meaning-drenched moments—a solitary walk under the moonlight; the reassurance of a hand held; the warmth of a goodnight kiss. Done in washes of color in a gentle, earthy palette, the ink drawings have an honesty and earnestness worthy of the story.

Heartbreaking and hopeful, innocent and wise, a gentle story about healing and finding connection—both in the past and present. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-039-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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