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ANT IN A BOOK

Recommended for fans of metafiction and wordplay.

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 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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THE WATER PRINCESS

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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