Anya isn’t the only kid who worries about being different on the first day; no matter how unique, though, readers are sure...

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A TIGER TAIL

(OR WHAT HAPPENED TO ANYA ON HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL)

Anya doesn’t seem at all worried that it’s the start of a new school year, but the tiger tail she’s sprouted overnight is a huge cause for concern.

Her mom and dad just don’t understand her anxiety about it. Mom says “It brings out your fun, wild side,” and dad compares it to when he first got glasses. Obviously, she’ll have to find her own solution. But the tail will not come off and can’t be hidden. Her mother’s comments only serve to give Anya more ideas, but mom doesn’t buy that she’s sick, and dad sees missing the bus as a bonding opportunity. Just as she’s imagining a circus career, a boy with his nose stuck in a book bumps into her; this dislodges his baseball cap, which is hiding a pair of rabbit ears. And the class picture on the final spread reveals that a tiger tail isn’t so bad. In Boldt’s digital illustrations, Anya appears to be white and has a mane of reddish curls (the tail really does complement them nicely) that perfectly matches her freaked-out demeanor, and her facial expressions are masterful. Her classmates are diverse in every way and include a girl in a wheelchair, a kid wearing headphones, a boy sporting glasses, and a male teacher of color.

Anya isn’t the only kid who worries about being different on the first day; no matter how unique, though, readers are sure to find a niche to call their own. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4885-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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