BONNIE & BEN RHYME AGAIN

Fox’s inimitable rhyming text and Horacek’s buoyant illustrations offer youngsters another winning choice.

Siblings Bonnie and Ben show off the numerous nursery rhymes they know while they walk with friend and mentor Skinny Doug.

When they reach a familiar hill, they launch into “Jack and Jill.” The sight of a couple of sheep ahead prompts a recital of “Little Bo Peep.” A plum tree they happen upon brings on “Little Jack Horner.” And a hairy black spider hanging from a lamppost elicits “Little Miss Muffet.” After the stars come out on their return home, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” precedes their going to bed, all rhymed out. Fox and Horacek previously teamed up for the effervescent Where is the Green Sheep (2004) and do so again to create a delightful narrative anchored by a repeated rhymed refrain. Between each traditional verse Skinny Doug exclaims: “I love it, I love it! / Well done, and hurrah! / Can you tell me another? / How clever you are!” (This will read as assonance in most parts of the U.S. but is likely a perfect rhyme in Fox’s native Australia.) The colorfully stylized cartoon artwork, familiar from the duo’s previous work, gives this jaunty, rambunctious outing extra flair as the nursery characters, painted in an array of skin hues, join in to trail Bonnie, Ben, and Skinny Doug (all white-presenting).

Fox’s inimitable rhyming text and Horacek’s buoyant illustrations offer youngsters another winning choice. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5352-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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IT'S DIWALI!

An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival.

Riffing on the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” this picture book explores Diwali celebrations in India.

The story opens, “One, two… // mehndi for you.” Mehndi is defined below the text, and a colorful illustration depicts people showing off the mehndi on their hands. Once the book reaches 10, it starts counting backward (“Ten, nine” / fireworks shine”), continuing the rhyming pattern. The text defines Hindi words such as rangoli (“colorful designs made on the floor or ground using chalk and flowers”), diya (traditional clay lamps), and jalebi (a sweet made from deep-frying dough) as well as potentially unfamiliar English words, such as rickshaw. While not all the words are directly related to Diwali, most are common vocabulary used in northern India, rendering the book a child-friendly introduction to South Asian Hindu culture. Lush illustrations in a joyful, vibrant palette convey the feelings of India’s festive season and feature characters with a variety of skin tones but mostly similar hair textures. While the authors’ note acknowledges India’s linguistic diversity—pointing out the holiday’s alternative spelling of Deepavali—it calls Diwali an “Indian” holiday when it is actually a Hindu holiday. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for accuracy.) 

An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5365-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

MAYBE MOTHER GOOSE

While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason.

Nursery rhymes provide playful opportunities for a diverse classroom.

Readers familiar with Codell’s work may recognize that Chavarri models the teacher character after her in the colorful, digital illustrations. The teacher greets a multiracial group of children entering her nursery school classroom in frontmatter pages. And the text begins with a brief Q-and-A: “Circle time? Yes. Playing with friends? Yes. Indoor recess? NOOOOO!” The teacher holds up a Mother Goose book to entice her disappointed charges, who stand looking out at the rain in the last part of this exchange. The subsequent double-page spread doesn’t seem quite to follow, as it first shows the “Twinkle Twinkle” rhyme and then depicts a pajama-clad black child answering “Yes” to “Window?” “Star?” “Wish?” and “NOOOOO!” to “Space aliens?” But then a page turn delivers the equivocal verdict “Well, maybe” and shows the child cavorting in a fantastic outer-space scene with extraterrestrials, spaceships, and the cow jumping over the moon. (Is this indoor recess?) The Q-and-A pattern continues with other rhymes until the book’s end, when it returns to classroom, teacher, and children, who can now go outside to play since the rain, rain’s gone away.

While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4036-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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