Delightful—will surely bring smiles to readers’ faces.

PABLO

Playing it safe, a chick decides to hatch bit by bit.

With stark black images—mainly a black egg in center stage—set against a white background, Belgian author/illustrator Rascal tells the story of Pablo, the chick, as he hatches. As the story opens, Pablo is spending his last night in his shell. When morning comes, Pablo must gather his strength for the task ahead, and what better way than with a small croissant and a hot chocolate? The tone is set: Though the images may be black and white, Pablo is no black-and-white character. There is an endearing complexity to this cute little chick. “A little bit scared” yet a little curious, “Pablo starts with a little tiny hole.” One eye contemplates the world outside, then two. Bit by bit, he makes a hole for each ear, his beak, and then his legs. Now Pablo can see, hear, smell, and wander around. With an eighth and ninth hole his wings are freed, and he flies. “He’s not scared now!” Tempering bravery with caution, after emerging, Pablo saves a small piece of his shell, just in case. And what a good thing he does, as the last illustration shows a yellow chick sheltering from the rain under his shell/umbrella. Indeed, bravery is not a one-dimensional trait.

Delightful—will surely bring smiles to readers’ faces. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-776573-24-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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