Fun, clever, and empowering, this is the rare case of a sequel that outshines its predecessor.

TWO PROBLEMS FOR SOPHIA

Sophia proves she’s not only a gifted linguist and negotiator (One Word from Sophia, 2015), but a brilliant engineer, as well.

Endpapers (cleverly oriented to require a height-emphasizing 90-degree turn) open the book with “giraffacts” that are referenced in the story. Sophia’s birthday wish from the previous installment has been fulfilled, but she’s “happysad”: It seems that “giraffe-size problems” come with Noodle, her kiss-happy, snoring One True Desire. Ismail’s expressive, hilarious watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations once again shine. Noodle has a long tongue—the giraffacts state it’s about 20 inches long—which makes his liquid kisses less-than-welcome to many members of Sophia’s interracial family. Though Noodle is “especially fond of Grand-mamá,” she is decidedly not a fan of his “sloppy” kisses. Neither is the family dog, who, dismayed and disgusted, is lifted right off the ground by Noodle’s extralong tongue! With Noodle’s snoring keeping the entire family awake, Sophia’s jurist mother gives her a directive: “to find a perdurable solution to his problems” (the first of many synonyms for “permanent”). That’s all Sophia needs to let her incredible engineering skills shine. First, she wisely consults an expert, an acoustical engineer, depicted as a woman of color. When at first she doesn’t succeed, Sophia, who has brown skin and wears her hair in two Afro-puff ponytails, perseveres until she finds an abiding solution.

Fun, clever, and empowering, this is the rare case of a sequel that outshines its predecessor. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7788-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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