Good for a chuckle for adults who support LGBTQ rights, but those who want to share inclusive stories with children should...



In direct response to Charlotte Pence and Karen Pence’s anodyne Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President (2018), a lifted middle finger to Vice President Mike Pence’s homophobia.

Informing readers that “this story isn’t going to be about [the vice president], because he isn’t very fun,” black-and-white bunny Marlon Bundo relates the events of his Very Special Day, which really begins when he espies Wesley, a “bunny-beautiful” lop-eared, bespectacled brown rabbit, in the garden. (In Keller’s accompanying illustration, Wesley is depicted heroically from a low perspective, enhaloed in the sun’s golden rays.) They hop happily together through house and garden and then decide to marry, at which point The Stink Bug (bearing a head of recognizable white hair) appears on the scene to tell them that “Boy Bunnies Don’t Marry Boy Bunnies!” Marlon Bundo, Wesley, and their animal friends discuss their various differences and then vote The Stink Bug “not in charge.” Attended by “two handsome grooms-otters,” Marlon Bundo and Wesley are then married by a lesbian cat minister. Adult viewers of the satirical TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which is behind this stunt, will love it. However, even as it delivers its message, the story takes easy jabs at the format it’s delivered in, and the result is yet another tiresome political picture book that’s nominally for children but really winks at other adults over their heads. Proceeds go to the Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Good for a chuckle for adults who support LGBTQ rights, but those who want to share inclusive stories with children should look elsewhere. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7380-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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