A bright affirmation of self-love and a potent reminder that comparison is the thief of joy.

THE CROW AND THE PEACOCK

A crow sees the error of his ways and is reminded what true happiness is in this contemporary fable.

Crow lives a life of contentment until he spots a dove high up in a tree. While admiring her beauty and lovely cooing, his self-esteem plummets. He suddenly dislikes his “dull” feathers and loud cawing. “You must be the happiest bird alive,” he tells Dove. But he’s surprised to learn that she envies Nightingale’s singing, which “makes my cooing sound plain.” Crow seeks Nightingale to confirm that it is the happiest bird in the world, but Nightingale is jealous of Rooster’s life. And so it goes as Crow visits Rooster, Swan, and Peacock—discovering along the way that each is jealous of another bird’s attributes. The textured, full-bleed illustrations offer plenty of visual variety with a pleasing palette that is filled with bright colors, including sunny yellows, pinks, and lavenders; spring greens; and warm shades of blue. All of this boosts the story’s cheery subtext. (At one point, the sun is depicted with a smiling face, and the peacock is imagined sitting in a circle of literal jewels to which his feathers are compared in the text.) When the caged Peacock reveals he envies the freedom enjoyed by crows, Crow once again feels content. Readers may even be prompted to ponder their own special traits.

A bright affirmation of self-love and a potent reminder that comparison is the thief of joy. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5568-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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