TURTLE AND TORTOISE ARE NOT FRIENDS

Two eggs find themselves in the same pen in a London zoo, and when they hatch, a turtle and a tortoise emerge.

The turtle and tortoise think of all the fun they’ll have together. “We shall be best friends,” they agree for a quick second, until the turtle dubs them “the Terrible Turtle Twins!” Suddenly, the tortoise is affronted. “I’m not a turtle,” he says, and goes on to explain that “a turtle is a horrid beast with rough skin and a hard shell,” whereas he, the tortoise, is “a handsome creature with a hard shell and rough skin.” The turtle and tortoise decide it would not make sense for them to be friends given their differences, and they spend many years apart and resolutely do not talk to each other. When their lives are (literally) upturned one day, the question arises: Can the turtle and the tortoise overcome their differences to help themselves and each other? Reiss’ subtle wit (which takes ample advantage of tortoise and turtle racing speeds) and Spires’ nearly identical turtle and tortoise highlight the absurdity of what it means to be different. The passage of time is marked by the fashion of passers-by, who grow more diverse with the decades. Although some readers may take exception to the zookeeper’s unexplained assertion that “all tortoises are turtles,” the book’s underlying message of tolerance and acceptance is worth sharing.

Humorous and deep . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-074031-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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