An amusingly absurd adventure that shines starlight on empathy and friendship.

READ REVIEW

HOPPER AND WILSON FETCH A STAR

Hopper and Wilson, two stitched-up, stuffed toys (an elephant and a mouse), sit on their dock with their pet cactus looking at the stars and decide to bring one home for a night light. 

With their paper airplane flight-ready, filled up with lemonade for fuel, they blast off. Adult readers might scratch their heads, baffled, but most children will drift along with the velvety narration, nodding, eager to join the two buddies up there amid the constellations. Familiarity with their first far-fetched adventure, Hopper and Wilson (2011), might make the first few moments of this journey less bumpy. Soft watercolors ease readers right into their celestial trip, however, mapping a starry sky through full-bleed saturations of dark blues and plum purples, dotted with twinkling whites and citrus-y yellows. Paper textures surface occasionally when the watercolors thin out, adding varying depths and a cirrus quality to the outer-space atmosphere. A walk to the dark side of the moon brings an acutely frightening moment for both Wilson and any sensitive reader who’s been lost. Luckily, the buddies’ special star, the one they planned to take home, helps orient the little guy and direct him back to his friend. His tiny, mousy voice, Hopper’s huge, comforting hug and all that bruised blackness make their reunion poignant and personal.

An amusingly absurd adventure that shines starlight on empathy and friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25772-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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