Young readers will love Sabrina Sue.

SABRINA SUE LOVES THE SEA

A quiet story about pursuing one’s dreams and sharing them with others.

Even though chickens aren’t waterfowl, the hen protagonist of this early reader is enamored of the sea. Sabrina Sue has never been there, but she’s read about it and dreamed about it for her whole life. The other animals on the farm scoff at Sabrina Sue’s dream of seeing the sea, with the exception of a sympathetic frog (who’s never mentioned in text but who the illustrations demonstrate clearly is Sabrina Sue’s boon companion). She doesn’t let them stop her, though. Stowing away in the back of Farmer Martha’s pickup truck, Sabrina Sue and the frog go to the sea—and it’s everything she hoped it would be. Cartoon illustrations are energetic and humorous in tone, with details like Sabrina Sue’s diving mask (donned long before she gets to the waterfront) sure to provoke readers’ giggles. There are no calamities or disappointments for comic effect, just scenes of the delighted chicken and sidekick amphibian frolicking in the sand and sea. When she becomes lonesome for her friends (despite their earlier scoffing), Sabrina Sue and the frog return to the farm to share stories of their seaside adventure. The easy-reading narrative text is set in a large, clear font; dialogue conveyed in a faux handwriting type is set in speech bubbles. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 21% of actual size.)

Young readers will love Sabrina Sue. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8425-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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