Fun-filled, delightful, and inventive.

A STRANGER COMES TO TOWN

Henry goes out with his sled and finds adventure on a snow-filled day in his very small Icelandic village.

He looks down from a slope and notices a large white shape on the beach and discovers that it is a very large polar bear. Polar bears can be fearsome, but this one seems shy and lost. His village is no place for a polar bear, so kindhearted, pragmatic Henry decides to help it find its way home. First a disguise is needed, in the form of a large red sweater and cap swiped from a clothesline. Several stops to assuage the bear’s hunger empty the food shops and leave the bear even larger than before. With Grandpa’s help and quite a lot of ingenuity, while still maintaining secrecy from the clueless villagers, they are able to get to the harbor, where they must use two boats in tandem to get their huge traveler safely home. The author/illustrator tells the spare tale in a matter-of-fact manner employing simple, brief sentences placed in a world of white, befitting the Arctic setting. The bright cartoon illustrations, appearing in small vignettes as well as single- and double-page spreads and on the endpapers, flesh out the story with imaginative, often hilarious details. Amid the fun is a gentle, subtle message about the very real plight of polar bears. Henry, Grandpa, and the villagers all present White.

Fun-filled, delightful, and inventive. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-76036-086-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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