THE ONLY LONELY PANDA

After several setbacks, Panda finds a best friend.

Deep in the dewy forest, Panda sits alone, wishing for a friend. Not far away, he sees another panda chewing on bamboo shoots and thinks this might be a likely friend, but he doesn’t know how to approach. He tries dancing like the flamingos, but it is a series of missteps—literally. Bouncing like the lemurs just has him landing with a plop. The blue-footed boobies strut majestically, and the peacock has dazzling feathers. Panda can’t master the booby walk, and bamboo leaves are no substitute for the grandeur of the peacock’s tail. Panda trudges off into the forest to eat his dinner. At this lowest moment, the other panda peeks out from between the bamboo to say hello. Panda has “his best idea yet.” He offers to share, and a friendship is born. Lambert’s lovely illustrations carry the story with minimal text; his pages have a shiny silver background, against which his realistic animal figures pop. His message on friendship persuades, to a point: can’t Panda also be friends with animals who are different? The other panda is distinguished from Panda only by the brown of her eye patches; gray-patched Panda often appears multiple times on the page, which may lead younger listeners to wonder exactly how many pandas are in this book, so it’s best used with older preschoolers who are practiced at decoding pictures.

Sweet. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-065-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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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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