Pass.

READ REVIEW

MOSQUITOES CAN'T BITE NINJAS

A mosquito doesn’t stand a chance against a ninja.

While clearly intended as a humorous text about a pesky mosquito and a pint-sized “ninja,” the depiction of the latter brings up troublesome characterization matters. The opening text declares that “mosquitoes bite all kinds of people,” and the cartoon-style art (reminiscent of Kate Beaton’s work) provides an aerial view of the insect zooming toward a diverse community. The ninja is depicted apart from this community, is assigned no pronouns, and is always clad in black clothing that leaves only eyes visible. The ninja’s skin is light brown—a darker shade than some people in the earlier depicted characters and lighter than others—and the ninja is described as “sneakier” and “quicker” than the mosquito. In the picture depicting quickness, the ninja sits cross-legged on the ground and, with narrowed eyes glancing to the side, grabs the mosquito in midair with twigs held like chopsticks. Combined, these cues reinforce Asian stereotypes. The child-sized ninja doesn’t appear to be playing pretend, nor to belong to a family, but is joined by a “baby ninja” who wears colorful clothes and a ninja mask. The story’s resolution arrives when, instead of being bitten, the ninja bites (and evidently swallows) the mosquito when it gets stuck in a jam sandwich, delivering a bizarre end to the fraught tale.

Pass. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-215-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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