The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous...

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HOW DO YOU DO?

One animal helps two animals out of the doldrums.

Water Buffalo and Crane are in a rut. The weather’s too hot, and “when one is all the time hot, days grow long and the world small.” Indeed, their hill is exaggeratedly rounded, as if they’re standing on a shrunken Earth. The air’s yellow; Water Buffalo’s eyelids are at half-mast, and he licks sweat off his lip. Their expressions are amusing—but not to them. What can break their sweltering, oppressive gloom? “ ‘How do you do?’ said someone new.” An unforeseen rhyme! Goat licks Water Buffalo and Crane, and “then, as sudden as summer rain, Goat started dancing.” Dancing is contagious. The three dance so high their heads leave the page. “They forgot the sun. They forgot the heat. Had the earth ever smelled so sweet?” Using gouache paint on watercolor paper, Marino swirls her hot yellows into cooler blues and greens, then finally into blue-pinks. Goat departs, but Crane and Water Buffalo are changed for good: the earth feels pleasant, and there are new animals to greet. Is the “summer rain,” as per the text, merely a figure of speech describing Goat’s sudden dancing? Or is it as real as the illustrations show it, sprinkling down? Does it matter?

The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous expressions keep it light throughout—anyone who’s needed this kind of intervention will relate. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61963-807-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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