Gowans’ children’s picture book features the loving relationship between a grandmother and her grandsons as they explore the natural world around them and celebrate differences in nature and ourselves.

This picture book uses alliterative, internally rhyming prose to expound on an afternoon excursion of a grandmother and her two grandsons. The trio starts by taking an outdoor walk and then explores the variety of life in grass at their feet via the magnifying glass grandmother keeps in her purse. As the three observe numerous critters in the grass, the ladybug takes center stage thanks to her uniqueness and her shaking, shimmying moves that capture the attention of the other denizens of the grass. Keeping with the upbeat mood, the story switches back and forth between the relationship between grandmother and grandsons and the adventure of what they discover with Gramee’s magnifying glass, culminating with a digression on how the ladybug is so different from the other critters and why this makes the ladybug special. Bouch’s smooth, clean ink lines filled with crayon-style color make the book appear like a child’s coloring book and will likely appeal to young children who like to draw or color. This lighthearted, fun story has a rhythm in its tone that will make readers want to get up and move to the beat. However, the prose occasionally reads awkwardly; for example, “swinging and swaying her ever so nifty, spiffy Gramee bag filled full of Gramee treasures” may seem to be patronizing baby-talk to more sophisticated young ones and challenge parents reading the story aloud. But the lesson presented is a valuable one. LaLa Ladybug, as she is aptly called, inspires Gramee and the boys to emulate her moves and do a “boogie oogie” of their own, while they celebrate the ladybug’s differences and how her differences make her the belle of the ball: “Being different and one-of-a-kind, she’s simply sure she belongs, because all her difference makes everybody happy and strong.” More likely to appeal to toddlers, this colorful, fun illustrative story inspires children to be proud of their differences. (Picture book. 1–8)


Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1434980793

Page Count: 27

Publisher: RoseDog

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2011

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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