Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one.

READ REVIEW

BAD BOY, GOOD BOY

The tale of a young pup whose good deeds only appear naughty falls flat due to the repeated use of judgmental phrases in speech bubbles.

In four brief chapters, young readers meet Sam, an exuberant, somewhat impulsive pup whose heart is in the right place. While he does run amok through the grown-ups’ activities (“Bad boy!”) on the way to finding a friend’s lost hat (“Good boy!”), he is very careful not to make the same mistakes upon his return, though the adults don’t notice. When banned-from-cooking Sam helps blind-without-his-glasses Grandpa with his midnight snack, the large cartoon panels show Mama’s progression from anger to understanding. Some quite accidental mishaps at school provoke his teacher to call him a “Bad boy!” and send him to the corner, where he purposefully starts trouble and, confusingly, is dubbed a creative “Good boy!” In the final chapter, Sam slips out unseen during a storm; his frantic relatives find him sheltering a fallen baby bird. Watercolor, gouache and pen illustrations show anthropomorphized dogs whose expressions speak volumes, especially the angry and fearful ones. Unlike Chorao’s Kate (Up and Down with Kate, 2001), Sam doesn’t face everyday situations, so readers may find it difficult to relate…unless they often hear the titular phrases. What is most worrisome is that even when the grown-ups seem to recognize that Sam is trying his best to do the right thing, they don’t see that he learns from his mistakes and is a good boy indeed.

Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0520-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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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