A fun exploration of recognizing the error of one’s ways and making and keeping friends.

NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON'T

A mischievous chameleon learns it’s important not only to change colors, but also one’s ways.

Chameleon is a trickster and proud of it. Narrating this lively romp in first—er, lizard, Chameleon gleefully boasts of its playfully sneaky antics. Whenever it wants to get away with some wily shenanigans—which is always—it simply plays the camouflage card and hides in plain sight. Pretty cool that Chameleon can switch from gray to red—or purple, silver, or whatever shade suits its purpose. It’s also a clever means of shirking responsibilities or bedtime and of literally stealing food out from under a pal’s nose. But everyone gets a comeuppance eventually. When Chameleon unwittingly causes a chain reaction that could land a neighbor in trouble if not danger, Frog, in a giggle-inducing scene, comically turns the tables. In an ending that feels rushed, a contrite Chameleon owns up to its mistakes and apologizes. Harmony and friendship are restored. This jaunty tale is presented in bouncy rhymes that match smiley Chameleon’s devil-may-care attitude toward life and fellow creatures. Many readers will understand and sympathize as they chuckle. Illustrations are colorful, lush, and vegetation-filled, appropriate to the jungle setting; animals typical of this backdrop are depicted: an elephant, a jaguar, a sloth, an orangutan, and toucans. Ample white space helps readers focus on Chameleon, its friends, and the humorous goings-on. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61.4% of actual size.)

A fun exploration of recognizing the error of one’s ways and making and keeping friends. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-210-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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

I AM ENOUGH

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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