Wildness is part and parcel of everyday childhood, embraced here with a roar.

A TIGER LIKE ME

This playful poem of a picture book captures a child’s wildness and warmth as he pretends to be a tiger.

From the moment he wakes up and roars for his breakfast, his tiger alter ego gives him permission to safely test the boundaries of family life. Whether growling for food, upsetting his father’s coffee cup, or cuddling with his parents, the tiger-child dances in hairy spatters across the page. The book’s dynamic, often busy illustrations and shadowy, hinted-at junglescapes communicate myriad rapidly changing childhood feelings and identities. While preschoolers will appreciate the wily tiger-child protagonist, the story’s poetic text might be a challenge for the younger range of the audience, as the unusual word choices, punctuation, and sentence structure in this translation from German are more sophisticated than typical American texts for this age group. However, child readers (and certainly adult caregivers) will identify with the book’s central messages: Children can experience a wide swath of feelings, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has complicated ways of interacting with the world. This little tiger is by turns loud, fast, greedy, clumsy, wild, wary, clever, creative, grumpy, quiet, and loving. The final quiet pages offer a peaceful conclusion to the wild narrative ride, creating a soothing finish for younger children who might be both thrilled and perhaps alarmed at the antics and naughtiness of the tiger-boy.

Wildness is part and parcel of everyday childhood, embraced here with a roar. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4456-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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