This lacks much of the humor of Marco’s first outing (Too Busy Marco, 2010), does little (or nothing) to allay children’s...

MARCO GOES TO SCHOOL

In his second outing, the parrot with big dreams does his daydreaming at school.

“Skool” is a completely foreign word to Marco, who at first wonders if it might be something to eat. On his first day, the little red parrot finds his teacher’s flowered pants quite fascinating, but even better is the astronaut toy atop the bookshelf, which suddenly turns Mrs. Peachtree’s speech into “blah, blah, blah,” and sparks a “First Bird Reaches Moon” fantasy. Playtime and a block tower to reach the moon cannot come soon enough for the jittery, imaginative bird. Block basketball (aka cleaning up) distracts him from the tower’s failure, and a turn on the swing with a new friend just may spark a new idea on how to achieve his dream. Chast’s world is a little like Stuart Little's. The parrot acts like a human child, but everyone around him is an actual Homo sapiens. Chast’s watercolors emphasize this dichotomy, the tiny parrot dwarfed by his enormous (by comparison) classmates. Cute is not a word that would apply to her spreads, which are filled with toothy kids with limited facial expressions. 

This lacks much of the humor of Marco’s first outing (Too Busy Marco, 2010), does little (or nothing) to allay children’s fears about school, and touts a character who daydreams during lessons instead of listening to his teacher: Skip. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8475-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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