Ably demonstrates to young readers the value of doing a difficult but important job.

TANNA'S OWL

When Tanna’s father brings a lone baby owl to their home, Tanna discovers how much work it is to care for it.

One summer, Father returns from a hunting trip with an abandoned baby owl that needs care. Even though “it’s somehow cute,” Tanna is not impressed, particularly when she has to get up before dawn to catch lemmings for the owl to eat. Inside the house Tanna also has to line the floor with newspapers because Ukpik, as she names the owl, poops often. As time goes by, Ukpik demands more and more food, and Tanna and her siblings grow tired of catching lemmings as it grows and loses its cuteness. When summer ends, Tanna has to go away to school, and although she worries about the unfledged owlet, she is “happy not to get up at 4:00 a.m.” When she returns home the following summer, Tanna is in for a big surprise. The heartwarming text is based on Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley’s (Inuit-Cree) own childhood experiences, according to an opening note, including a stint in residential schools that is mentioned only glancingly in the story. (Sean Qitsuallik-Tinsley is of Scottish-Mohawk descent.) The backmatter gives readers more information about the authors and includes Inuktitut pronunciation guidance. Kang’s use of a soft, muted palette pairs well with the text to make the story come alive for readers.

Ably demonstrates to young readers the value of doing a difficult but important job. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77227-250-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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