An uplifting story with amiable verve.

THREE

A three-legged dog goes on a journey of discovery.

Three the dog lives homeless in a city. But Three doesn’t consider his life wanting. The sun warms him; he feels clean when it rains on him; he is even thankful that he doesn’t have four legs, because the things with four legs he’s aware of (chairs) don’t move and get sat on by those with two legs (humans). This is another trait of Three’s: He pays great attention to the number of legs of all the creatures around him. He’s happy “six legs” (ants) have an underground home to go to and that an ”eight legs” (spider) is high out of reach of harm. One day, Three wanders far out of the city into the country, where he meets Fern, a little-girl two legs, who shares his independent spirit as well as her cookies and milk. Fern introduces Three to many other various-legged creatures in her garden—and to her single mother and little brother. The happy ending isn’t in doubt; what gives the story its propulsion is Three’s very doggy, glass-half-full attitude that a creature’s number of legs is simply an interesting feature (an attitude that may come more easily to a quadruped than a biped). The loose-sketch–style illustrations filled with relaxed washes of color visually underscore Three’s positive approach to life. Racially diverse humans are illustrated; Fern and her family present White.

An uplifting story with amiable verve. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4923-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Hee haw.

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

I AM ENOUGH

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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