This quiet exploration will leave readers and listeners with a cozy sense of connection and belonging while also...

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VINCENT COMES HOME

A seafaring cat learns the meaning of home.

Vincent, an orange cat with wide eyes, is capable of complex thought but not otherwise anthropomorphized. He enjoys life aboard a cargo vessel but is curious about the sailors’ oft-voiced longing for “home.” So he decides to follow one of them off the ship so that he can find out just where Home is and what all the fuss is about. The Bagleys include subtle visual clues that although he’s unaware of it, Vincent has a fine home already. From the name of the ship (Domus) to the appearance of the cheerfully whistling white captain in the background to Vincent’s admission that the captain’s cabin is his “favorite place,” the evidence suggests that if “Home is where the people who love you are,” then Vincent need search no longer. As in previous titles, an idea that could come across as saccharine benefits from a straightforward text and matter-of-fact tone. The expansive setting allows for a range of engaging scenes, from a charmingly old-fashioned–looking world map to hillside towns, tropical islands, icy landscapes, and starry nights at sea. Realistic pen-and-watercolor illustrations vary in size and placement and effectively combine soft textures and crisp lines.

This quiet exploration will leave readers and listeners with a cozy sense of connection and belonging while also acknowledging the thrill of new vistas. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-780-9

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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