These reptiles with a rockin’ relationship will win fans.



Is Croc best at something? Pal Turtle certainly thinks so.

Croc asks Turtle if Turtle would like to see Croc lift a heavy rock; Turtle says sure. It’s not easy, but Croc lifts it and claims the title of strongest. Turtle claps. Along comes Elephant, who tries lifting the rock…and tosses it skyward. Croc then asks Turtle if Turtle would like to see Croc jump over the rock. Turtle is impressed when Croc performs the task…then along comes Rabbit, who demonstrates that Croc’s not the best jumper either. Turns out Croc’s not as fast as Cheetah, either. Croc’s sad not to be the best at anything. Turtle points out that Croc is better than Turtle at all of the feats attempted. Neither of them is the best…until they realize they are both the best at being best friends. Wohnoutka’s good-natured tale of competition concludes with a heartwarming denouement and a funny finish, when the buddies bump into a friendly shark after deciding Turtle’s the best swimmer and Croc has the most teeth. Between its kid-friendly treatment and its sunny, cartoon characters, this is a great addition to storytime collections as well as good bibliotherapy for the overly competitive. The text is composed entirely of dialogue and sound effects, and no character has a specified gender.

These reptiles with a rockin’ relationship will win fans. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-634-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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