Enchanting.

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MADAME MARTINE

Adopting a stray dog inspires a routine-bound woman to take a new view of the world.

Madame Martine follows a strict schedule: Each day she takes the same walk wearing the same coat, shopping at the same stores. And even though she lives near the Eiffel Tower, she’s never climbed it. “Eh. It’s a tourist thing,” says Martine. One day she discovers a wet, dirty dog in a bush, and after determining he’s a stray, she takes him home. She gives him a bath and names him Max, and he promptly falls contentedly asleep on her bed. Then one Saturday, on their routine walk near the tower, a squirrel dashes by, and Max takes chase, pulling the leash from Martine’s hand. Max continues running but heads up the stairs of the tower, forcing Martine to hastily buy a ticket to catch him. Vertiginous views of the tower’s skeleton emphasize its height. When they reach the second level, Max slips into the elevator, and Martine follows. The doors open at the top to a spectacular two-page spread of Paris at twilight, with Martine and Max in the foreground. After that, Martine and Max resume their daily routines but with a twist: They always try something new on Saturday. The exquisitely rendered watercolor illustrations are full of charm and expression, becoming more colorful and saturated as Martine’s heart gets fuller.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4905-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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