Big ideas ably packed into little, bright packages.

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HERE WE ARE

NOTES FOR LIVING ON PLANET EARTH

Addressing his infant son about what it means to live on Earth, the author/illustrator offers a mix of planetary facts, quotations, bits of advice, and illustrations.

The dedication page to 2-month-old Harlan includes, from the author, “These are the things / I think you need to know,” as well as a quote from J.M. Barrie about the importance of kindness. Jeffers’ fans will not be disappointed by the scant, lilting text and the boldly colored, stylized depictions of people, animals, and scenery. Themes include the physical planet, caring for the body, diversity of people and animals, time well spent, and caring for the planet—with kindness as an overarching element. The tone is unsentimental and conversational and laced with Jeffers’ trademark wryness: “We know a bit about the sea, but we’ll talk some more about that once you’ve learned to swim.” The facts disclosed are rudimentary, as is the vocabulary—but this entertains rather than bores, because readers are intermittently reminded that the book’s audience is a baby. The double-page spread illustrating the “shapes, sizes and colors” of people is amazingly inclusive of ethnicities, abilities, and lifestyles (though the depiction of what seems to be an Arctic Native in furs speaks to the difficulty of balancing inclusion against stereotype in such an effort). Scattered throughout are funny, never snarky asides—as when a parrot corrects the assertion that animals don’t talk and when part of the universe is labeled the “stratosthingy.”

Big ideas ably packed into little, bright packages. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16789-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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