To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead.

GRUMPY DUCK

A disgruntled duck brings a dark cloud upon her friends.

Duck is grumpy, the pond is dry, and there’s nobody to play with. A little gray cloud forms above her head, matching her mood. Though friends suggest activities to smooth her ruffled feathers, she rudely turns up her bill at digging holes with Dog or munching laundry with Goat, and she “just [doesn’t] do cockadoodling.” With each snub and each animal’s retort (including Pig’s out-of-place “honked” oink), Duck’s cloud swells until it’s “BLACK” and “GINORMOUS” and everybody’s grumpy, demonstrating the cumulative effect of taking anger out on others. Just as it threatens to blot out the sun forever, it bursts with a “SPLATT PLITTER PLATT” into “MILLIONS OF BIG SHINY WET SPLASHY RAINDROPS,” conveniently remedying Duck’s initial complaint. The animals burst into a waddling, barking, cockadoodling rendition of “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Duck exits under a double-page rainbow, her rudeness apparently forgotten. The author’s storm metaphor is simultaneously clichéd and unclear. Though the exuberant downpour may symbolize that “GLOOM cloud[s]” pass, its literal gratification of Duck’s griping may imply that bad moods are good reasons to be unkind—a message caregivers won’t appreciate. Horácek’s bold, textured mixed-media illustrations pop, but his animated critters can’t save the text’s muddled moral.

To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0424-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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