As with Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s Math Curse (1995), this book should open readers’ eyes to the learning all around...

FRANK AND LUCKY GET SCHOOLED

When an unlucky boy and a lost dog find each other, their friendship leads to a lot of learning.

First they learn about each other; then they go to school. Lucky the black Lab goes to his school 10 times, but Frank the redheaded, white boy has to go thousands. But even when they’re not at school, they’re learning: botany and entomology from the plants and ticks Lucky picks up in his explorations; chemistry from their experiments about what will take away skunk odor; astronomy from the time they spend outside because Lucky is still too smelly; math—infinity is the number of biscuits Lucky is willing to eat, and at night, what fraction of the bed belongs to Frank and what to Lucky? But the duo’s favorite subject is geography—exploring the world around them, and that leads to other lessons of all kinds. Perkins’ pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations use vignettes and speech/thought bubbles to marvelous effect. And the humor is hysterically tongue-in-cheek: “If a dog is sitting at the Horizon Line, he will look like a Silhouette….Then you will have to go get him and bring him home.”

As with Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s Math Curse (1995), this book should open readers’ eyes to the learning all around them. Of course, if they have learning companions like Lucky, so much the better. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237345-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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