Readers will find themselves with their noses to the pages to observe and enjoy the stylistic variation.

REMY AND LULU

Behind every great painter there’s a great painter who’s a dog.

Remy the portrait painter “snort[s], grumbl[es] and attack[s] the canvas with brushes full of dripping paint.” He portrays “the essence of a person, not their likeness.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, his works aren’t popular, and he goes hungry—until Lulu comes along. She’s a small, neat dog in a top hat who paints a portrait of the subject’s pet in a low corner of each of Remy’s canvases. Patrons exclaim “Such detail!” and “Such color!” and “What a likeness!”—but they are referring to Lulu’s tiny animal portraits. Remy rises to fame. But one subject—an optometrist—gives Remy new spectacles, and suddenly he sees the truth. Lulu’s been so modest that weak-sighted Remy had no idea Lulu was contributing to the art. Woe to Remy’s dignity! “They rode home in silence,” and Remy’s palette dries out from disuse. The touching way they return to painting honors different artistic styles, though the whole premise also gently mocks Remy’s poor eyesight. Funnier is the understated text about demure Lulu: “ ‘I…paint from here,’ Remy said, tapping his chest. ‘Isn’t that right, Lulu?’ Lulu sniffed a potted plant.” Hawkes’ illustrations—full-bleed, framed or vignette—have a robust, painterly quality, while Lulu’s miniatures by Harrison are so precise and fancy they’re almost delightfully fussy.

Readers will find themselves with their noses to the pages to observe and enjoy the stylistic variation. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-449-81085-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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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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