Takes tree-hugging—and standing up for yourself—to a new level.

TREES MAKE PERFECT PETS

When a young girl chooses a tree as a pet, she won’t be dissuaded or discouraged by people’s comments.

And there are many, starting with her family members when Abigail makes her wish for a pet tree known before blowing out her seven birthday candles. But she neutralizes them all with clever counterarguments. At a nursery, Abigail chooses “Fido,” a dogwood in a gray pot, and the two are inseparable. Socks adorn the tree’s branches on laundry day, and during a tea party, she reads aloud to her stuffed animals, one of them perched in Fido’s crook. Abigail even takes Fido on long walks (in a wagon), which garners them more looks and comments and questions. Unflappable Abigail fields them all. But what she can’t counter is the fact that Fido is growing, shown gradually in Gendron’s detailed illustrations. The only thing to do is plant Fido in the yard, but Abigail can’t leave her best friend…until, after a night spent in his branches, she realizes that Fido won’t be lonely with all the new friends he’s made outdoors. It’s refreshing to see a child stand up for her choice in positive ways, especially since most readers are likely to think that choice an odd one. Abigail and her family have light brown skin; the few other humans are diverse.

Takes tree-hugging—and standing up for yourself—to a new level. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6473-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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