Winnie is sure to meet the challenge of school with the same verve she exhibits trying to teach her dog

DISOBEDIENCE SCHOOL

From the Winnie & Waldorf series

A little girl works through her school nervousness by setting up Winnie’s Disobedience School for her dog, whose behavior needs some work.

Winnie doesn’t teach the normal dog school subjects; these are topics and routines that will resonate with kindergarteners: finding your cubby, ABCs, music class, nap time, math (subtraction—of bones—is easy for Waldorf, addition not so much), art. It’s during gym class that Waldorf shows his true colors: he steals the tennis ball from Winnie and runs off but then prevents a smaller dog from running into the street in front of a car by passing the ball to him. By then, it’s been a long and full day, and Mom tells Winnie to clean up and get ready for bed—it’s school for her in the morning! And Waldorf’s behavior is so much improved that he can walk Winnie all the way there. As in Winnie & Waldorf (2015), Hites nicely captures the bond between the white blonde and her big dog in her watercolor illustrations, and Winnie’s pupil is a step up from those of the kids who hold pretend school with their stuffed animals. Waldorf has a marvelously mobile face, and readers just may be cheering both his heroic rescue and his improvement in behavior by the end.

Winnie is sure to meet the challenge of school with the same verve she exhibits trying to teach her dog . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-231162-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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