Introverts need not apply.

VALERIA

A bashful rabbit learns to make friends in this Spanish import.

Valeria, whose worlds at school and home are depicted in crisp linework with a bright, spring-colored palette, may excel at knowing her colors, numbers, and letters, but she lacks any self-confidence. She isn’t aware that she is “as pretty as a spring morning” (both her shiny hair and sparkly eyes are noted) and repeatedly hides her face; she isn’t aware of her sweet voice and speaks too softly; and she isn’t aware of the power of her laugh or the strength of her physical affection, so she withholds them. She looks down at the ground too much (though in the spread noting this, she, confusingly, is depicted as looking up at everyone’s feet above her). When the wind, described as dangerously bored, carries her hat away, she finally sees her classmates for who they are—and hugs Raul, her friend with a bandaged leg and crutch. Rid of her shyness, she discovers “a new world.” The story, which places a moderate emphasis on Valeria’s physical appearance, may disappoint readers who see more value in other qualities. Moreover, children may take away a baffling message about bodily autonomy, since the story explicitly notes Valeria’s inability to give away “her hugs and her kisses.” Finally, some children may think Valeria is doing fine precisely as she is, with an introspective, shy personality not necessarily in need of fixing.

Introverts need not apply. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-84-18302-21-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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