Surprisingly pleasant.

READ REVIEW

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 buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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