RUBY RED SHOES

A VERY AWARE HARE

Ruby, a white hare, always wears red shoes.

Her first pair came from Babushka Galina Galushka, the grandmother she lives with in a sweetly decorated caravan, evocative of Eastern Europe. Though the title suggests that Ruby might learn or teach a lesson about awareness in the story, this book offers almost nothing in the way of plot. There is little interaction between Ruby and Babushka Galushka, no dialogue outside of the grandmother’s advice to treat feelings as “delicate birds’ eggs,” and no additional named characters. What this work offers in abundance is a sweet satisfaction with the day to day. Ruby’s unhurried routine showcases the role of humble objects within it, such as capacious teacups, energetic, engaged chickens, and a billowing clothesline. While some readers may find such inaction, well, boring, others may appreciate sensing the comfort of home. A charming cadence shapes the narrative, making it appealing to read aloud. Within the clean, sophisticated illustrations, notable attention is paid to the small details, such as holes in each individual button in a jar, tiny petals folded tightly on flowers, and slightly rounded points on Ruby’s colored pencils. Everything about this book asks readers to go slowly, to put aside the expected, and to savor the simplicity of the moment.

Surprisingly pleasant. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12346-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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