Sadly, this tale of picture-book representation misses a valuable opportunity.

WILLOW THE ARMADILLO

Representation matters.

Willow the armadillo loves picture books. She checks armfuls of them out of the library and desperately wants to see herself in one. She tries several things to achieve her goal: taking a heroism class, auditioning, answering an ad (“YOU COULD BE THE NEXT PICTURE BOOK HERO!”). Nothing works out, and she becomes discouraged. An unexpected crisis helps her discover how to be a hero—do the thing she loves the most and help others along the way. Bright, colorful illustrations depict various cartoon animal characters, some with more expressive faces than others. On the surface, Willow’s story seems heartwarming; however, it seems to make light of a much more serious problem in the children’s-book industry: a lack of representation not of animals but of children of color and other marginalized identities. Will children of color, children with disabilities, and children with LGBTQ identities wishing to see themselves represented as picture-book heroes see themselves in this pink armadillo? The denouement, in which Willow decides to be happy reading others’ stories because “nothing could top being a hero in real life,” feels like a slap in the face to those children who deserve to see themselves. What is needed right now are books that can serve as mirrors for children and offer them the chance to see themselves as literary, and literal, heroes.

Sadly, this tale of picture-book representation misses a valuable opportunity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4105-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more