Take this off the shelf to share with primary-grade students who are navigating the ever changing landscape of friendship.

READ REVIEW

SECOND BANANA

Under the big top, the show must go on, but the relationship between a spotlight-grabbing monkey and the amiable gorilla that assists him is ripe for a change.

“The Amazing Bubbles was the star of the circus. / Oop was not.” The grinning, diminutive monkey is the focus of every act, but huge and helpful Oop always works behind the scenes. She is “the pool filler-upper, tire pumper-upper, music holder-upper, and fuse lighter-upper,” but she longs for her turn to be a star. Bubbles dismisses the idea: “You silly gorilla! Think of us as bananas. Obviously, I am the Top Banana. The Big Banana. Numero Uno Banana. You are Second Banana.” But a mishap leaves Bubbles with a boo-boo, and Oop eagerly comes forward to help. The results are less than optimal. When Oop launches out of the cannon with such power that she bursts through the tent, disaster appears imminent—but “far below, a pair of skinny arms reached up for her.” Readers will relate to the uneven friendship dynamics softened with humor. Graves deftly uses pencil and digital color to illustrate the range of Oop’s emotions as well as the duo’s antics. Happily, Bubbles and Oop remain pals, and their relationship evolves—but there always seems to be the need for a second banana.

Take this off the shelf to share with primary-grade students who are navigating the ever changing landscape of friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-883-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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