Loquacious little ones may well not see themselves, but everyone can share a laugh.

READ REVIEW

WORDY BIRDY MEETS MR. COUGARPANTS

Wordy Birdy clearly didn’t learn to keep her mouth shut from her last misadventure (Wordy Birdy, 2017), but at least this time her talking is an asset instead of a liability.

Well, in the end it is. But at the start of a camping trip with her three loyal friends she is a bit tough to take. The logorrheic bird spews dialogue balloons that fill up the pages, listing rhyming words, delivering plot spoilers, and extolling her love for almost everything under the sun. Happily, Sauer once again breaks the fourth wall with these friends, having them respond snarkily to the narrator’s comments in direct address to readers: “Wordy Birdy is a little chatty,” explains the narrator. The squirrel responds, “A LITTLE chatty?” while the raccoon demands, “Seriously?!” Their droll expressions steal the scenes, especially when juxtaposed against Wordy Birdy’s rather empty-headed look. It’s the narrator who alerts the foursome to the hungry cougar’s presence, though observant readers will have noticed clues. While her three friends panic, Wordy Birdy does what comes naturally: “Just so you know, Mr. Cougarpants, rabbits taste terrible…[and] I’m too adorable to eat….” Those ellipses represent a lot of words. In fact, it’s so much, the cougar runs off. “All I wanted was a nice, quiet dinner.”

Loquacious little ones may well not see themselves, but everyone can share a laugh. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1933-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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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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