A sweet and spunky everyday adventure.

MAX ON THE FARM

From the Max and Friends series , Vol. 3

Two friends sneak off on a late-night adventure during their class field trip in this third series installment by Stonewall Award–winner Lukoff.

White, transgender boy Max and his friend Teresa, a cisgender girl of color, love making messes together. Although Max doesn’t like getting into trouble, Teresa thinks trouble is part of the fun. When their class takes an overnight field trip to a farm, unexpected mischief awaits them after dark in the stinky, muddy pigpen. This picture book/early reader hybrid captures the playful, innocent spirit of two friends testing the boundaries of the world around them as Teresa’s spontaneity encourages Max outside of his comfort zone. The story centers on the dynamic of their friendship and what they learn on the farm, but readers of previous titles in the series will recognize recurring characters in the background, and both Max’s teacher and his whole class support him when the farmer and square dance instructor misgender him. Lozano depicts racial diversity in Max’s classmates, including students with pink to dark-brown skin and different textures of hair. Lukoff’s representation of a transgender character is refreshingly casual and well rounded. He provides much-needed inclusion for transgender youth in a new-experience story that doesn’t fixate on identity as a point of conflict and goes beyond the coming-out narrative.

A sweet and spunky everyday adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6863-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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