A perfect companion for a young pet lover or pet owner–to-be.

READ REVIEW

ALFIE

(THE TURTLE THAT DISAPPEARED)

Every story has two sides, but some tales move at a turtle’s pace and require patience and a bit of good fortune.

For Nia’s sixth birthday, she receives a turtle. The little black girl names her new friend Alfie. Nia adores her new friend and eagerly introduces him to all her friends, declaring that Alfie is 6 like her. As much as she loves him, though, Nia soon runs out of things to do with her laid-back turtle friend, so she “kind of forg[ets]” about him. Before long, it’s time to celebrate Nia’s seventh birthday, and that’s when Alfie gets an idea. The second half of the book follows Alfie as he tries to find the perfect gift to repay the love he feels for the little girl who has shared so much of her world. Heder provides a story that doesn’t rhyme, but it does sing with childlike invention and honesty. Who hasn’t wondered what their pet was thinking or where it went that time it disappeared? With beautiful, expressive watercolor illustrations, including an astonishing, spare spread that marks the transition between Nia and Alfie as narrators, and clear, concise wording, Heder takes readers on a journey about what it means to be a child with a new pet who sometimes loses its luster but never its worthiness of love.

A perfect companion for a young pet lover or pet owner–to-be. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2529-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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