For Tillman, predictability and preciosity have been profitable, and this is likely to be another best-seller to add to her...

THE HEAVEN OF ANIMALS

Fans of Tillman’s sentimental rhyming couplets, pretty pictures and relentlessly positive worldview will welcome this vision of a happy heaven populated by pampered pets, ethereal angels and friendly animals of all sorts.

This heaven is a decidedly pastoral place, from the fog-shrouded lake on one of the opening double-page spreads to a field of sunflowers and a grassy meadow. A sandy beach, deep blue lake and wildly colored savannah are among the other settings, all of which serve to add variety and visual interest. Angels, mostly children and overwhelmingly white, are sprinkled about, playing with dogs, petting kittens and patting horses as well as running, dancing and paddling a bright blue canoe. The digitally created artwork verges on photorealism in some instances, while other vignettes have a gauzy look. The text is straightforward, with a strong rhythm from the opening couplet to the final reassurance: “But when you meet your friends again, / they’ll see you as they saw you then. / And you’ll find they always knew / how much they were loved… / and how much they loved you.” Accompanied by the depiction of a joyous reunion between a boy and his dog, the final two pages may well be the most affecting part of the whole.

For Tillman, predictability and preciosity have been profitable, and this is likely to be another best-seller to add to her list. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-312-55369-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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 straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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