A funny story that encourages readers to be unapologetic about who they actually are

I AM ACTUALLY A PENGUIN

An adventurous girl with a passion for dress-up discovers that she is actually a penguin. Her only problem is that now she has to convince her family.

Sometimes she’s a “pretty princess,” other times an “incredible pirate,” and still other a “terrible witch.” After her latest parcel arrives…now she’s a penguin. “Actually.” Whether she’s in the frozen-foods aisle of the grocery store, on public transportation, or playing soccer with friends, this enthusiastic protagonist consistently declares that she is “actually a penguin.” Much to the dismay of her patient mother, confusion of onlookers, and scorn of her older brother—even at her aunt’s wedding—this feisty penguin remains in character. But just when the protagonist’s family reaches their breaking point, our dedicated penguin decides she’s “actually… / an alligator.” This lighthearted book featuring a family of color packs a heavy dose of humor and is sure to be a storytime favorite. The bright mixed-media illustrations are full of motion and personality, and scenes of the child festooning the living room with toilet-paper snow and sliding down the stairs face first on her belly are sure to elicit chuckles from kids (and sucked teeth from adults). 

A funny story that encourages readers to be unapologetic about who they actually are . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0278-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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