Engaging wordplay makes a serious point about inclusion.

THEY'RE SO FLAMBOYANT

Feathered friends are flustered when flamingos move into the neighborhood.

Flamboyance describes a group of flamingos, just like a waddle of penguins or a brood of chickens. But these flamingos aren’t just flamboyantly bright pink—they also wear tiaras and feather boas, and one sports a rainbow mohawk. The longtime residents are all atwitter, often alliteratively. A “gaggle of geese gathered to gab. ‘Flamingos! Really? In our backyard?’ ” Every bird family seems to have an opinion, and it’s a negative one. A squadron of pelicans creates a daytime neighborhood watch. Nightingales take the late shift. Finally, all the birds flock together to march on the flamingos’ new home. Luckily, when the flamingos open their door, wrens chime, “Stay calm,” and the wisdom of owls has brought “a heaping plate of algae for the new neighbors.” The flamingos then reveal a surprise—a “welcome to our home” party—with all their new neighbors invited. For all the colorful illustrations, fun collective nouns (a list is in the backmatter), and clever wordplay and alliteration, this book has a serious message about “inclusion, exclusion, and the stereotypes, fears, and assumptions that can lead to discrimination,” as the author’s note explains. Dialogue in the concluding scene is unsubtle (“Differences don’t have to be scary”; “What were we getting so worked up about?”), but this story is a welcome springboard for age-appropriate discussions of assumptions, stereotypes, and inclusion. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Engaging wordplay makes a serious point about inclusion. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3278-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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