A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes.

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GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO AUTUMN

As a child walks through woods and town, summer turns to fall, and the natural world is met with a friendly hello.

A slim, brown child with a black-haired bob and hipster clothes stands on a stoop, ready to greet the late summer morning. On this picturesque journey through the seasons, the protagonist’s cordial salutation—whether made to blue jays and beavers or to the thunder and wind—is always the same: “Hello, [object].” And all amiably respond, providing tidbits of information about themselves. Unfortunately, their chatty replies miss the rhythm and easy conversational style that would make this shine as a read-aloud. It’s a shame, since the artist’s lush, evocative digital illustrations so perfectly capture the changing seasons in both the countryside and the town’s streets. To further accentuate the subject matter, Pak makes every spread a panorama, allowing readers to see and feel the various environments and habitats. Working in the tradition of such artists as Richard Scarry and Mary Blair, he takes a graphic approach, illustrating a world with simplified characters and shapes, layers of textures, and bold colors. Repeat visits will reveal new stories, such as the child’s collection and distribution of a carefully crafted bouquet to other people, whose diversity refreshingly reflects a range of skin tones, hairstyles, body types, and interests.

A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-415-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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