A revolutionary representation of joy and self-expression.

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MY RAINBOW

A loving mother helps her daughter express herself and feel like a rainbow.

Trinity, an autistic, Black, transgender girl wishes she had long hair. But growing it out is a struggle because she hates hair touching her neck. Seeing her daughter’s sadness, Trinity’s mom, a Black cisgender woman with natural hair cropped close, listens to Trinity’s concerns. At first, she tries to reassure Trinity that girls can wear their hair short, but Trinity still doesn’t feel happy. Honoring the truth that Trinity knows herself best, Trinity’s mom puts her love and devotion into creating a curly, teal, pink, and purple wig for Trinity, with some help from Trinity’s older sibling. Richly colored and invitingly detailed full-spread illustrations that complement the story’s title and theme accompany the text. The narrative centers a Black family whose members are depicted in the illustrations with skin that is a range of rich browns. In the midst of Trinity’s struggle with her gender expression, her mom models listening and affirmation. She acknowledges that her own experiences with societal expectations of gender expression as a cisgender woman are different from Trinity’s. Even as the story shifts to show Trinity’s cisgender mother’s perspective, Trinity’s feelings remain the focus and her happiness the motivation. Apart from the use of person-first language (“kids with autism”) instead of identity-first language, Neal and Neal emphasize that all aspects of Trinity’s identity deserve celebration and make her a masterpiece. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60.9% of actual size.)

A revolutionary representation of joy and self-expression. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984814-60-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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 seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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