When the siblings sneak out to join the circus, readers may hope that they never return. (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

MEET THE DULLARDS

All children wonder, at times, if parents make decisions solely to suppress fun; in this story, there is no doubt.

Blanda, Borely and Little Dud—their gray clothing and straight brown hair resembling their parents’—lead an intentionally diversion-free existence. Books are confiscated and replaced with blank paper, television may be watched only when unplugged, and school attendance is denied. When a snail crosses the road, the family moves, because “[i]t’s like a circus around here.” Observant viewers will intuit from the siblings’ contraband reading material and paint-store antics that becoming a juggler, tightrope walker and lion tamer are actually in line with their desires. They will chuckle at the dull adults’ absurdity and revel in the children’s rebellion. Salmieri’s watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil scenes provide just enough texture and color (seen in the outside world) to maintain interest. Small, changing expressions among these oval-eyed, spindly-legged caricatures and amusing details on the cover and title page reward close looking. The difference, however, between this crew and their cousins, the Stupids and Dumb Bunnies, is that those families are ignorant together—blissfully, lovingly. Here, although there is humor in the home, there is no joy; the children struggle to entertain themselves under extreme demands for conformity.

When the siblings sneak out to join the circus, readers may hope that they never return. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-219856-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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