Chicken and Owl’s solution is ingenious and makes one wonder where the word “birdbrain” ever came from.

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WHO'S NEXT DOOR?

A simple comedy of errors takes place when a chicken and an owl find their waking hours at odds.

“Deep in the woods, there are two houses. Chicken lives in the house with the red roof. No one lives in the house with the blue roof.” When Kishira talks red and blue, she means the kind of red and blue paints deployed in elementary school art classes circa 1958: saturated and primary as primary can be. (The houses, true to form, are lemon yellow, and Takabatake’s linework is good and wobbly.) When mail starts being delivered to the house with the blue roof, Chicken is stoked: “He enjoys living on his own, but sometimes he feels lonely.” Since no one answers the door, Chicken leaves a note, which is promptly responded to by Owl, the newcomer. Happy to make new friends, he writes that he will visit the next day. For Chicken, day is day, when the sun is out, but for Owl, day is night, when the moon is out. One is waiting, waiting, waiting; the other wonders if it is too early to drop in. This is the kind of bafflement young readers will gratifyingly pick up right away; they will smugly feel they have the drop on Chicken and Owl.

Chicken and Owl’s solution is ingenious and makes one wonder where the word “birdbrain” ever came from. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77147-071-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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