More female-powered action from an inspired creative team.

FOLLOW THAT FROG!

Following Special Delivery (2015) and The Only Fish in the Sea (2017), a third adventure from Stead and Cordell finds young Sadie playing a supporting role to elderly Aunt Josephine, whose tales of past adventures drive the action.

Aunt J directs Sadie to ignore the persistent knocking. “It could be a vacuum salesman. Or more likely, a suitor….I have been the world over, Sadie, and today—I will sleep past noon.” But instead of sleeping, she spins a yarn. Beginning with her work as a 9-year-old member of a multiracial scientific team in “the jungles of Peru,” Aunt Josephine recounts sighting a giant frog as it swallows the young son (smitten with her) of the recently deceased expedition leader. The frog’s escape begets Aunt J’s around-the-world journey. “For though I didn’t care much for the admiral’s son, I do abhor a job unfinished. And it was my job to catalog that frog!” Cordell’s visual drollery embellishes the exploits, which include Josephine’s dog, a rhea, a parrot, a tortoise, an ordinary frog, and a few canaries. Thought-bubble vignettes show the group at Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Roman Colosseum. Over years, a pith-helmeted Josephine hikes, bikes, dives, and pilots a helicopter—all in exuberant but vain pursuit of that frog. Cordell provides hand-lettered display type for some text along with a houseful of domestic animals and visual clues to Josephine’s and Sadie’s prior adventures. A final page lets readers discover the source of that knocking. Hint: it’s no vacuum salesman. Both Sadie and Aunt J present White.

More female-powered action from an inspired creative team. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4426-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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