Kaadan crafts a happy ending within an active war context, no easy feat; readers seeking a less fantasy-dependent plot may...

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TOMORROW

A story about how a child and his family cope with war.

Yazan, a Syrian boy, has not been able to go to the park to play recently nor to go to school sometimes, which upsets him. He used to have fun watching his mother paint and painting with her, but recently she has been constantly watching TV with the volume so loud and the images spilling out of it full of darkness—literally: Shadows ooze out of it in the pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, one of many symbolic images used to portray war and destruction. One weekend, after all of Yazan’s attempts at self-entertainment and to engage with his parents fail, he escapes. However, the world he sees outside is not what he expected: The street is empty, there are no other kids to play with, and scary sounds of explosions abound. Yazan’s father eventually comes to the rescue, and his parents become more involved again, explaining to him why he cannot go outside. His mother brings her paints, and Yazan is excited. “When will the fighting be over?” he asks. “I don’t know,” says his mother, but “let’s paint a park in your bedroom…and soon, you’ll be able to go outside again and play.”

Kaadan crafts a happy ending within an active war context, no easy feat; readers seeking a less fantasy-dependent plot may enjoy Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb’s The Day War Came (2018) or Hayan Charara and Sara Kahn’s The Three Lucys (2016). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911373-43-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

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.

THE DINKY DONKEY

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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