Breezily enthusiastic.



A girl experiments with careers and loves them all.

In prior book Lola Dutch (2018), the narrative voice classified Lola’s exuberant personality as “too much”; this time it’s her career aspirations. Fortunately, after opening with the same chiding tone (“This is Lola. Lola Dutch. Lola Dutch wants to be too much”), the narration drops the judgment, and Lola goes to town, sampling careers to her heart’s content. She’s an opera singer! Inventor! Botanist! Each requires copious assistance—for example, “Gator built the set. Pig composed the orchestrations. Crane designed the costumes”—depicted in vignettes, after which readers see a full-bleed double-page spread of accomplishment: Lola onstage belting opera or Lola perching in an I’m-the-king-of-the-world pose in the nose of her old-fashioned, mildly steampunk flying ship. Other careers fly by more quickly in spot illustrations: astronaut, pastry chef, veterinarian, chemist. Visual references to Vermeer and Leonardo will tickle adults. Ever present is Lola’s steady guardian, Bear, who’s ungendered, wears a yellow bow tie, and seems to lack feet (to no mobility detriment). The pencil, gouache, and watercolor illustrations are airy and cheerful. Lola, a tall, skinny white girl, is supposedly facing a quandary here—what to be when she grows up—but her career explorations and boundless energy are exciting, not stressful.

Breezily enthusiastic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-554-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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