MINDI AND THE GOOSE NO ONE ELSE COULD SEE

A loving father and a wise neighbor find a way for Mindi’s invisible goose to depart.

Mindi’s goose, seen as a large and looming shadow on her bedroom wall, “came into her room as quietly as a thought…and…stayed there for as long as it wanted to.” Children will understand that Mindi can’t get rid of the goose on her own. Mindi’s father hikes over the hills to visit Austen, a “wise old man” who helps others with “sensible advice.” Austen asks that Mindi journey with her father to visit. Austen allows her to feed a young goat some apricots. “If she likes you she will give you back the stone.” The hidden stones of the apricots and, later, plums returned by the little goat to Mindi’s hand seem poetic and meaningful. The little girl gives the heretofore nameless kid a pragmatic name: Black-and-Whitey. When, a week later, Austen arrives at Mindi’s house, little goat in tow, and tells Mindi that the goat is hers in exchange for “the big goose no one else can see,” Mindi’s mother’s expression is amusing. McBratney’s posthumously published tale is filled with a gentle kindness, and the illustrations pick up on that, both treating the child’s fear with respect. Ólafsdóttir’s country scenes are tidy and filled with sunlight, Austen’s many animals look contented, and a young goat bounces across the endpapers. All the characters are White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.6-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.1% of actual size.)

Low-key and reassuring. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1281-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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