THE BOY WHO TRIED TO SHRINK HIS NAME

An insightful tale that digs deep into names—an inherent part of identity—and the emotions attached to them.

Names matter.

Zimdalamashkermishkada might be a mouthful, and it may even trip up the bearer of the name. It definitely means that the young South Asian boy will keep trying to shorten his name. But every time he does that, introducing himself by the nickname Zim, his emotions roil, making him realize that something isn’t right. Thus begins a journey for Zimdalamashkermishkada to fit his name, and himself, into his new school and with his new friend Elly (light-skinned with red hair). Setting itself apart from the slew of recent picture books that explore names from different cultural heritages, this one sees its protagonist come to appreciate his name on his own instead of seeking answers from an adult. The narrative offers the child agency, letting him work out his identity on his own with a bit of help from friends and family. The illustrations are warm, dominated by hues of green and orange. Both art and text use metaphors deftly, a bird slowly appearing as Zimdalamashkermishkada learns to embrace his name; the bird soars, huge and proud, by book’s end. The writing pops in the moments that break down how Zimdalamashkermishkada feels, especially as he “fold[s]” and “unfolds” his name, like origami. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An insightful tale that digs deep into names—an inherent part of identity—and the emotions attached to them. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-4197-6158-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

ROBOT, GO BOT!

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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