The emphasis on art as something that’s not useful and on holding on to items by branding them as art makes this one to miss.

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KENYA'S ART

A broken-toy purge turns into an art-making session in this didactic look at recycling and reuse.

Kenya’s story begins when her mother orders her to get rid of all her broken toys, including the one she is currently playing with, a prize from her art teacher. In a narrative shift, Kenya asks her dad for homework help—she has to tell her class what she did for spring vacation: nothing. A walk to the park only reinforces how much better her classmates’ vacations have been. But a museum tour provides the spark: a quilt made with reused scraps and a sculpture: “This artist recycled used bottles and made something to look at. It’s not useful, it’s art,” says the docent. Kenya labels it a “thingamabob.” The whole family gets in on the act at home, making new things from old and creating art. Kenya makes her own thingamabob that is sure to have parents of packrats cringing: it’s a huge heap of broken toys anchored in a clay base. Mitchell’s detailed watercolor, graphite, and digital illustrations show a loving black family whose expressions are rather static. Kenya’s friends and classmates tick off the other racial and ethnic boxes for a nicely rainbow classroom: white twins, a black trumpet player, an Asian soccer player, a Latina teacher.

The emphasis on art as something that’s not useful and on holding on to items by branding them as art makes this one to miss. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57091-848-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to...

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DRAWN TOGETHER

The power of art takes center stage in this cleverly titled story of a Thai-speaking grandfather connecting to his assimilated American grandson.

The title page introduces readers to a sullen-faced Asian boy as he walks up to a door and rings the bell. After a traditional bow of greeting, the grandfather, dressed like Mr. Rogers in a white shirt and red sweater, wordlessly welcomes the grandson inside. In paneled artwork, the two unsuccessfully attempt conversation over dinner, with the grandfather speaking in Thai script and the boy speaking in English. Sitting in the uncomfortable silence that cultural divides create, the awkward boy finally walks away to doodle on paper. He draws a wizard with a wand and a conical red hat. Grandpa, recognizing this creative outlet, fetches a sketchbook and, surprisingly, draws his version of a wizard: a tightly detailed warrior clothed in traditional Thai ceremonial dress. The young boy is amazed, marveling that “we see each other for the first time.” The two begin a battle of imagination, wands and paintbrushes thrashing like swords. One draws in energetic colorful cartoons, the other with fierce black-and-white, precisely brushed drawings. Santat elevates their newfound shared passion into energetic, layered, and complex designs, separate and entwined at the same time. They clash with the dragon that divides them and build a new world together “that even words can’t describe.”

Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to connect and the joy of sharing the creative process. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6760-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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