A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy.

READ REVIEW

THE BOY WHO CRIED

Poor Billy.

While some stories send the message that it’s OK for boys to cry, the pale-skinned boy in this picture book needs no such assurance. He cries freely, often, and at the slightest provocation; what he needs is help achieving emotional regulation. Fed up with his tantrum over not getting a toy he wanted while out with his mother, Billy’s parents send him to his room, where he weeps and wails, with only his cat to comfort him. Before he falls asleep his mother says that his “tears have flooded the house up to my ankles!”; his father says the flood has reached his knees. Text and art suggest that readers should accept this literally, but readers may wonder whether it is in fact figurative speech that then provokes Billy’s dream of being adrift in a sea of his own tears. Ultimately Tubbs the cat saves the day by drinking down all those tears, then sending Billy falling back into wakefulness and out of his dream. He immediately finds his parents, lesson learned: “while it’s okay to cry sometimes, throwing a tantrum only causes a flood of problems!” This moralistic conclusion offers no practical strategies for readers coming to the book with similar emotional issues. Le’s illustrations feature fine, black outlines and rich colors set on backgrounds that suggest mottled textures.

A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60887-730-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Insight Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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