Cloying or cute but harmless either way.



From the Heart-Felt series

This tribute to hugs and snuggles boasts tactile features on the cover, bright colors, and simple text.

This confection of a board book will strike caregivers as either charming or sickly sweet, depending on their temperaments. Magsamen’s latest entry in her Heart-Felt series does indeed feature both hearts and floppy felt bunny ears and arms on the cover. Little fingers will find the felt features engaging. Word of warning: the white felt appendages on the cover will surely collect dust, lint, and whatever grime may be on a child’s hands; over time they will lose their luster. A series of questions, one per double-page spread, accompanies pictures of hugging mother and baby bunnies. “Do you like to snuggle in the rain? // Do you like to nuzzle on a train?” Readers might well expect the next lines to be, “Would you cuddle in a box? Would you cuddle with a fox?” Shakespeare it’s not, nor Dr. Seuss either, for that matter. The images are pleasant enough, simply rendered to look like felt pieces “stitched” to the page. The climactic tableau asks, “Do you know I love you honey? / You are my sweet cuddle bunny!” Whether the child in the caregiver’s lap will be docile or squirming by then is, of course, an open question.

Cloying or cute but harmless either way. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-92797-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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


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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