As independent as Max and Ruby, as creative as purple-crayon–wielding Harold, and as dedicated a friend as Charlotte’s...

LIZARD FROM THE PARK

The tale of a sizable sidekick for one competent kid.

Leonard, a curly-haired, brown-skinned little boy, finds an egg in the park one day and takes it home to his apartment on the top floor of a tall building.  In the morning, Leonard witnesses his “lizard” busting out of its egg, prompting the name “Buster.” Though a trusty companion who accompanies Leonard on all of his jaunts around the city, the lizard soon grows to a problematic size. The annual parade (with floats like those in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade) offers just the opportunity Leonard needs to find his buddy a new home. Pett’s simple and sparse illustrations focus on Leonard and Buster by illustrating the pair in bright colors and other people and objects along the city streets in grayscale or dull colors. This highlights the book’s amusing irony: despite the presence of a large green dinosaur in a busy city, nobody pays any attention to Leonard or Buster. In fact, Leonard roams the city from day to day without interruption or attention from parents or other interfering adults. He solves his own problems and takes care of the pet he has acquired of his own volition.

As independent as Max and Ruby, as creative as purple-crayon–wielding Harold, and as dedicated a friend as Charlotte’s Wilbur, Leonard will delight kids of all ages, regardless of habitat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8321-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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