A funny-enough joke doesn’t make a story that sticks.

READ REVIEW

THE BOY WHOSE FACE FROZE LIKE THAT

An oft-heard cautionary statement comes true.

Wendell, who’s depicted with brown skin and straight black hair in the rather garish art, is a rule follower. “He never once disobeyed his parents,” reads the text that introduces the protagonist. The accompanying picture shows him equipped with every imaginable type of protective gear as he uses a skateboard to walk his dog. In an uncharacteristic moment of incredibly mild mischief-making, Wendell makes a silly face in the mirror, and (you guessed it) his “face froze like THAT!” Cox’s illustration shows Wendell facing readers, one eye screwed shut and his teeth unnaturally protruding over opposite corners of his top and bottom lips. His parents (also people of color) try to fix his face with a rolling pin and a screwdriver, to no avail. In fact, nothing can seem to thaw his face, and his speech is comically distorted for several pages. Ultimately, it’s his own acceptance of his state and his parents’ unconditional love that cause him to transform: “We love you…Just the way you are,” they say, and: “PF-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-T!…The pressure Wendell felt to be perfect and to follow the rules all the time—it let go.” With this letting go, Wendell’s face transforms back to his original appearance. The resolution is both heavy-handed and at odds with his parents’ easy acceptance—why did he feel so much pressure in the first place?

A funny-enough joke doesn’t make a story that sticks. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9347-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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