Recommended for fans of metafiction and wordplay.

ANT IN A BOOK

When an ant finds himself flattened in a book and moves from page to page, he inspires the Chinese characters printed on them to start moving too, creating new stories every day.

The ant is sleeping among the petals of a flower when a girl comes and plucks the flower, placing it in a book to press it. The ant awakes, also flattened, and hears voices. They are the voices of characters—the words and parts of words that make up Chinese writing. When the ant moves through the book, the characters decide they should try moving too, but of course, their moving around changes the book. When the girl remembers her flower and opens the book, she finds a new story. After a few days, she realizes what is happening, and soon she reads the book’s new story every day. Reds and natural yellow tones dominate the illustrations, which, though not striking, contain humorous touches: The characters are drawn with little googly eyes on top and, once they start moving, red boots on bottom; the cross-eyed ant wears a scarf and striped socks. (The girl has beige skin and brown pigtails.) The clever play on the word “character” works nicely in this import, provoking curiosity about the nature of writing in different languages and the characters in English books. Readers will be intrigued by the concept and will surely envy the girl whose book changes every day.

Recommended for fans of metafiction and wordplay. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6932-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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