It’s a little roundabout, but this friendship tale gets there in the end.

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A SURPRISE FOR MRS. TORTOISE

Old Mrs. Tortoise discovers wrinkles. It doesn’t make her day.

Mrs. Tortoise likes to start her morning at the pond to freshen up. This particular day, “she felt like something extraordinary was about to happen to her.” What with this premonition, along with Wimmer’s warm, mystical landscapes, Merlán has set the stage. And that special something is: Mrs. Tortoise’s reflection, which she clearly has never reflected upon. “Her face was wrinkled and her shell looked worn out. It was right then that she felt old and very, very sad.” Her good friend Birdie happens by. Birdie is even more colorful than Mrs. Tortoise’s turtleneck sweater. Seeing she is in the dumps, Birdie tries several spectacular efforts to cheer her up, but none suit. Finally Mrs. Tortoise snaps at Birdie, her rage taking him off his feet. Mrs. Tortoise then gets a serious bout of guilt, then collapses into a deep sleep—giving Birdie the chance to pull a neat trick to brighten Mrs. Tortoise’s next day. Mrs. Tortoise is thrilled, and apologizes for being mean. Birdie accepts. At first it feels that Birdie had to go to a great deal of effort and trouble for—what? an apology?—and that Merlán’s story lacks a reckoning. But the reckoning, and the extraordinary thing, is Birdie going the extra mile for a friend.

It’s a little roundabout, but this friendship tale gets there in the end. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-946333-4-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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 must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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