An art-positive story rich in love, determination, and delightfully big words for brains of all sizes.


From the Sophia series

Sophia’s impressive vocabulary strikes again.

In this third title in the series, 6-year-old Sophia, who has brown skin and wears her hair in three puffballs, has a conundrum: Her art falls short of her expectations, so she crumples it up in frustration after showing it to Noodle, her pet giraffe. Aided by her attentive teacher, Ms. Paradigm, who agrees with Sophia that “Art is hard,” she comes to understand some things about perspective that improve her painting she calls Love. At home, she lobbies for permission to display her art on the family’s new stainless steel CoolKitch (TM) fridge. (Readers will recall she used this skill effectively to get Noodle in One Word From Sophia, 2015.) She must convince Mother, the judge (who is also pregnant); Father, the businessman; Uncle Conrad, the politician; and Grand-mamá, the “head curator.” Ultimately it’s Noodle who helps Grand-mamá, the toughest critic, see the art and their family from a better vantage point. Readers might never have encountered the words “ossicones,” “curator,” or “censorship” before, but they will have a good idea of what each word means after reading this story, especially with the help of the robust glossary. Ismail’s whimsical watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations of this interracial family will entertain and delight while they inform. She captures Sophia’s shifting attitudes particularly well as the determined protagonist pleads her case for abstract art.

An art-positive story rich in love, determination, and delightfully big words for brains of all sizes. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7790-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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