Feather your nest with this book.

READ REVIEW

PERFECT PIGEONS

Birds of a feather flock together (but they can still like different things).

Nine pigeons introduce themselves as a perfect flock, reasoning they are so “because we are all perfectly the same.” And while physically they are all similar, save for variations in the colors of their throat bands, it’s obvious from the front endpapers that one blue-banded bird is a little different. For starters, that particular pigeon sports a pair of hip red glasses and has a singular approach to life. Why walk barefoot through the park when instead you can wear flashy cowboy boots? Why fly from place to place in regular fashion when instead you can wear a cape and show off your superhero moves? As the flock reminds readers of their perfect uniformity, they eventually grow frustrated with the cheerful outlier’s eccentricities, challenging its uniqueness. Unperturbed, the maverick holds its ground and encourages the rest of the flock to explore things they like, helping the other birds to learn that individuality doesn’t reduce their connection; it just allows them room to explore their individual interests. The pithy text and bright, humorous illustrations (the pigeons look like simplified bowling pins with wings) work in tandem to deliver moments of quiet amusement. The story overall doesn’t tread new ground, but it treads old ground admirably. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 100% of actual size.)

Feather your nest with this book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5781-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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