Penelope joins the ranks of some other popular nonconformists, including Ian Falconer’s Olivia, David Shannon’s Camilla...

YOU'RE WEARING THAT TO SCHOOL?

A hippo with her own sense of style shows her 1-year-older, uptight, mouse best friend that it’s important to be true to yourself.

Penelope is over the moon to be starting school, but her best friend, Tiny, seems more reticent about his first day back: “Oh, Penelope, you have so much to learn.” And he’s not talking about academics. Penelope’s sparkle rainbow outfit will cause everyone to stare, and what will they think of her picnic lunch and her Hugsy Hippo for show and tell? Tiny helps her pick out the perfect outfit, lunch and item for show and tell—all of them boring, ordinary and plain in Penelope’s eyes. But you can’t keep a happy hippo down, and in the morning, Penelope dons her sparkle rainbow outfit and packs her picnic lunch and Hugsy Hippo anyway. Tiny is uncomfortable with the other kids’ stares at the bus stop, reluctant to sit with Penelope on the bus and worried that his friend will have a bad day. But when they meet up again in the lunchroom, he realizes that his fears were unfounded. Penelope not only has a great day, she makes the day better for all the kids around her, Tiny included. Plourde’s dialogue includes lots of give-and-take between Penelope and Tiny, encouraging children to join in, and Cornelison’s illustrations positively revel in Penelope’s outré glee.

Penelope joins the ranks of some other popular nonconformists, including Ian Falconer’s Olivia, David Shannon’s Camilla Cream and Victoria Jamieson’s Bea. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5510-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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