As inclusive, adorable puppet playthings, this book and its companions succeed—but not so much on literary merit.


From the Chatterboox series

This interactive board book features a finger-puppet bunny enjoying a meal at the table.

Even bunnies have to learn how to eat, as evidenced by the mess made at the end of the meal in this board book. The story encourages a conversational tone, with the main character—a bespectacled white child with features characteristic of Down syndrome—talking to the bunny while having a meal. The child’s dialogue appears on the left with the stuffed animal’s responses on the right. The finger-puppet bunny head is absolutely adorable: well done in three dimensions, complete with ears that stand up and a pink nose. The illustrations themselves are appropriately basic, all taking place at the same table with little variation in the child’s facial expressions and only minor changes to food and drink from page to page. The uncredited rhyming text is lackluster: child: “Carrot, Bunny? / All for you!” Bunny: “Crunch, crunch, crunch! / It’s good to chew!” The three other books in the series (Dive In, Ducky!, Play Time, Puppy!, and Sleep Tight, Teddy!) feature the same structure, successes, and struggles. It’s refreshing to see such inclusive treatment of disability. Teddy features a black-presenting child with a cochlear implant, and Puppy’s Asian-presenting protagonist wears a safety helmet, suggesting seizures. (Ducky’s protagonist presents white and has no evident disability.) The finger puppets remain adorable across the series.

As inclusive, adorable puppet playthings, this book and its companions succeed—but not so much on literary merit. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78628-207-1

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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