Questions about what we see and what we don’t see, what we know and what we don’t know ripple through this beguiling book...

READ REVIEW

A KISS FOR AKARAKA

Daddy and little Lula rake autumn leaves alongside Akaraka, the girl’s imaginary friend.

Akaraka takes shape in the clouds, wind, leaves, and breeze—an evanescent silhouette that Daddy can’t see, though he playfully calls to her. Lula watches Akaraka out of the corner of her eye while giggling and teasing, “Daddy, you silly….” Readers  will feel exhilarated, enclosed in Lula’s private secret. They too make out her form in the autumnal natural world and later as a diaphanous shadow on bedroom wallpaper. Lithe, light-handed pen-and-ink–and-watercolor artwork appears both delicate and assured, making landscapes, expressions, and postures (even the folds of a sweatshirt) appear at once exact and exquisite. While interior domestic scenes seem cozily, concretely familiar with helpings of chocolate pudding (an extra for Akaraka), the world outdoors feels wildly atmospheric, with soaring skies and spinning leaves. Spacious double-page spreads evoke the luxuriant pull of the imagination, where the charm of an imaginary friend can sweep you away, across borders. Lula and her parents have pale skin and straight, black hair; Jackson’s back-flap biography explains that the word Akaraka comes from the Igbo-speaking people of southwestern Nigeria and was adopted by his then-3-year-old granddaughter, who loved the sound.

Questions about what we see and what we don’t see, what we know and what we don’t know ripple through this beguiling book like a playful October wind. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265196-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 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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