A good pick about caring for sharing.

THE POWER OF ONE

EVERY ACT OF KINDNESS COUNTS

Words and pictures work together to show how, one by one, we can make a difference.

Ludwig’s text doesn’t tell a story so much as it delivers the straightforward message that even small acts of kindness can have a big impact. The narrative takes root in Curato’s illustrations, which expand on the text to depict a diverse group of children and their interactions. An opening frontmatter scene shows a white-appearing child with blond hair and blue eyes shouting at another person (words are represented by scribbles in a speech balloon), who appears to be a child of color. On the facing page, a crowd of kids rendered in grayscale are oblivious to the interaction, with the exception of one child with East Asian features who stands out in full color. On ensuing pages, the child who was shouted at cries while the tormentor stalks away and the bystanding child offers comfort. This act of kindness spurs others that eventually include all of the children coming together in full color to create a garden. Even the first, shouting kid from the frontmatter reappears with a flower to apologize. The garden prompts interpretations both literal and metaphorical as the children sit down at a table shaped like the numeral one to feast.

A good pick about caring for sharing. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7158-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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