Naomi’s home—its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions—is forever a place of love.

EVERYTHING NAOMI LOVED

A community archive is preserved in a unique mural.

Community sits at the heart of Naomi’s life—evidenced by the city panorama on the title spread. Naomi, a beige-skinned young girl with straight brown hair and a big smile, pokes her head out the window to see her world, full of bustle and life. Cars, bicycles, and buses rush by, past the hair salon, the mechanic, the pizzeria. A ribbon of musical notes swirls around Naomi and her busy block, denoting the noisy joy of urban life. With her best friend, Ada, a Black girl, Naomi climbs a tree, rides scooters along the block, and draws pictures in sidewalk chalk. At dusk, Naomi and her family say goodnight to the lively neighborhood. All seems well until Naomi’s world begins to change. The tree is cut down, Ada moves away, and stores begin to shut—falling victim to gentrification and urban renewal. With help from her shopkeeper friend Mr. Ray, a Black man, Naomi paints what she loves most about her neighborhood in a mural on her building. Little by little, though her world has altered, her mural grows until at last her community is preserved in vivid colors. Yamasaki and Lendler’s straightforward yet poignant text nicely complements Yamasaki’s whimsical yet grounded illustrations that depict this portrait of urban connection. Her bright, bold palette is eye-catching, with carefully portrayed diverse neighbors, young and old. 

Naomi’s home—its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions—is forever a place of love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00491-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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