Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play.

READ REVIEW

HALF A GIRAFFE?

A young giraffe longs for the best leaves, beyond her reach.

The bright yellow quadruped with brown crayon spots and a neck that’s perfect for sliding down is lucky enough to have many animal friends. In rhyming text and with the help of a wise tortoise, she learns that she can both push herself and lean on her friends to reach the tippy tops of the trees and eat those luscious leaves. Before she accomplishes her goal, the tortoise reminds Gisele of her special personal qualities: “What else do you have? Much more than your spots! / Kindness. And pluck. And a headful of thoughts.” Acknowledging that each animal has different physical traits, the tortoise continues the encouraging message: “You might not have whiskers or armor or wings, / but use what you’ve got; you don’t need those things.” The mixed-media illustrations, with their childlike depictions of animals in an imaginary African savanna scene, carry this book beyond its rhythmic but otherwise fairly pedestrian text. They are joyous, vivid, and funny, especially in one of the climactic spreads, when the animals, large and small, get together to form “a mountain of…animal stairs” for Gisele. Small children also want to accomplish tasks beyond their abilities with the assistance and encouragement of wise and patient grown-ups, and this story will resonate.

Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3144-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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