A sympathetic protagonist finds common ground with a diverse group of friends.



A shy but imaginative girl struggles to make friends until she overcomes her fears in Daniel-Ayoade’s (SADE: We’re Moving to Canada, 2019) picture book, illustrated by newcomer Logina.

Third grader Kayla sits alone every lunch period. She wants to approach Naomi, Samantha, and Bianca to ask whether she can sit with them, but she’s afraid; her shyness makes her hold back. She thinks of her grandmother’s advice: “Face your fear, Kayla. What’s the worst that could happen?” Unfortunately, Kayla’s imagination is so vivid, she can come up with a lot of horrible results. She sits alone, and later, she avoids finding a partner in gym by hiding in the bathroom. At home, Kayla confesses to her brother, Eric, that she’s been avoiding her schoolmates because she fears what might happen: “Eric grunted a reply. He had autism and didn’t speak, but she knew he meant to say, ‘I know how you feel. Next time, take a deep breath and try to stay calm.’ ” The next day, when Naomi hands Kayla a party invitation, Kayla breathes deeply and accepts. At the party, Kayla soon forgets to feel shy, and—with the encouragement of her new friend and an incentive to win a gift for her brother—finds the courage to sing for the guests. Some pages have just a couple of lines of text and others 10 or more, but Daniel-Ayoade’s straightforward narrative is inviting, even in the more text-dense pages. The open-ended titular question is answered in Kayla’s own imaginings, depicted in Logina’s soft-edged cartoonlike illustrations. While Kayla’s fears of being mocked are understandable, her imagined consequences finally become so ridiculous, as comically depicted by Logina, that readers will laugh along with her. Kayla and another girl have different shades of brown skin and curly hair, a third girl is pale and blonde, and Naomi is depicted as Asian American, but the text doesn’t call attention to the cast’s ethnicities (beyond giving Naomi the surname “Lau,” a variant on the Chinese “Liu”), making their differences feel natural.

A sympathetic protagonist finds common ground with a diverse group of friends.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77701-355-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jewels & Pearls Publishing Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2020

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


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 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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