An inviting and inclusive story for all—even rats.

RAT FAIR

Cuddly rats get creative around rearranged letters on a sign.

When a letterboard advertising an art fair falls into disarray, a group of rats organizes a rat-sized fête, complete with pennants, popcorn, and carnival rides. Hilsaca’s sweet, pastel-hued cartoon illustrations drive the story, which is almost entirely devoid of text. They depict rats who are clever, smartly dressed, and fluffy, with anthropomorphic smiles and large ears evocative of the manga character Hamtaro. Under softly glowing string lights they paint, juggle, and twirl in teacups until a custodian brushes away their stalls and replaces the letters—but never fear, a child attending the humans’ art fair above saves the Ferris wheel and stalls. The child returns the next day to help with the new-and-improved rat art fair, as under cover of night the rats have painted, knitted, and sculpted away to continue the festivities. The tale comes to an end with one talented rat gifting a portrait to the child, who has brown skin and dark hair. Other humans pictured are diverse in skin tone and hair textures and styles. The child’s father (also brown-skinned) uses a wheelchair, and when the family is pictured eating tamales at home, a chair lift features unobtrusively in the background. The child’s mother presents White.

An inviting and inclusive story for all—even rats. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5768-7984-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more