An adorable story about friendship and learning how to state your needs.

ISOBEL ADDS IT UP

When the noise from next door threatens to keep quiet-loving Isobel from completing her math homework on time, she gets serious about resolving her noisy-neighbor situation.

Isobel, who presents as Black, listens to the loud thumps and bumps made by her new and noisy neighbors and imagines that there must be acrobats on the other side of the shared wall. As the noise continues, Isobel thinks that the neighbors must be a marching band or even a basketball team! After a failed attempt to get back at the neighbors by making some noise of her own, Isobel comes up with a new plan. She and her father bake peanut-butter cookies and deliver them with a note asking the new neighbors to be quiet. To her surprise, she receives a note back from her new neighbor, Bernadette—an elephant. Bernadette also has math homework due Monday, and it turns out the two make a winning pair of study partners. Not only is it refreshing to read a story about a little girl who loves math, but it is also exciting to read a book in which a child learns to establish boundaries in a way that is kind and fair. Ford illustrates Isobel’s reality in full color, with skewed angles to emphasize the disruption to her routines; both the equations she’s trying to work and her imagined scenes are represented as monochrome, white-space–filling cartoons.

An adorable story about friendship and learning how to state your needs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17810-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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