A rare treat for sensitive and artistic readers.

READ REVIEW

WHERE ARE YOU, AGNES?

The artist Agnes Martin’s childhood and its influences are imaginatively portrayed in this picture book from Canada.

While the author’s note at the end of the book makes clear that the narrative is influenced, but not constrained, by events in Martin’s life, the story does successfully establish a tone that gets at the sensitivity of the famed abstract artist. The language is simple and evocative, and its repetition of phrases grounds its key concept—that beauty exists in the mind—which could have otherwise become too vague for the audience. Agnes is shown as a child growing up in the prairie of Saskatchewan and being introduced to its beauty by her beloved grandfather. Her family’s move to the city challenges Agnes’ need for visual beauty, but again, her grandfather helps her to see the beauty inside. As subtly effective as the narrative is, the illustrations are sublime. Working in the delicacy of watercolor and colored pencil and using negative space prominently, Celej inserts judicious bits of cut collage, the sharply defined edges of which visually heighten the softness of the other media. The result is art that is both soft, emanating visual possibility, and ordered—much like the minimalist work of Martin herself. A palette that modulates from the grays of the city back to the soft colors of the prairie acts as a visual cue to Agnes’ internal artistic flowering. All people shown are illustrated as white.

A rare treat for sensitive and artistic readers. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-140-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How to Catch… series

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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