Another Chinese New Year book perhaps worth adding for its extras.

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RUBY'S CHINESE NEW YEAR

If Grandmother can’t come for Chinese New Year, Ruby will bring Chinese New Year to her!

Ruby, a brown-haired, gray-eyed, freckled girl, decides to visit her grandmother, who is “unable to travel.” In keeping with their traditions, Ruby draws a beautiful picture of their celebrations as a gift for Grandmother, and she starts off on her trek. Along the way, she meets Cat and Rat, Ox, Tiger, and Rabbit, and many more who decide to join her. Ruby eventually gathers all of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, added cumulatively and in their correct order, who help her manage a mishap and, in the end, contribute toward the Chinese New Year feast with Grandmother. The relationship between Grandmother and granddaughter is sweet, but the obstacles between them don’t ring quite true—why can’t Grandmother visit? Why does Ruby jump into a pond instead of walking around it? Perhaps the most compelling piece of this story is the backmatter, the “Legend of the Chinese Zodiac,” indicating that Ruby’s journey is a retelling that can’t quite stand alone. Chou’s digitally painted art brings color to the story, but it also mirrors the text’s lack of depth and richness. The book’s inclusion of instructions for three related activities will please crafty readers and educators.

Another Chinese New Year book perhaps worth adding for its extras. (activity instructions) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13338-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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