OHora has fused bright and engaging artwork highlighting the beauty and diversity of this community apartment building with...

NIBLET & RALPH

Readers meet a duo of feline friends whose mix-up due to an uncanny resemblance leads to the meeting of two new potential human friends.

Niblet and Ralph look alike…a lot alike. But only the two friends realize that they live in the same building. When meowing on the phone loses its excitement, the two friends decide simultaneously and independently to visit each other, only to discover that the other isn’t there. When Ralph’s and Niblet’s adorable children, Gemma, a girl with straight black hair and light brown skin, and Dilla, a black boy, return to their respective homes, they notice immediately that something is awry. “Not Niblet” refuses his favorite cheesy chips, and “Fake Ralph” hates his usual hugs. At night Gemma and Dilla imagine all of the horrible fates that could have befallen their beloved pets: Have they been kidnapped by a robot? Have they been eaten by a dog, stolen, or carried off by birds? When Gemma and Dilla decide to scour the neighborhood and post fliers in search of their furry family members, they collide in an uproarious fashion. Using a palette of turquoise, orange, brown, and black and his trademark heavy black line, OHora invests all his characters with plenty of personality, even the two seemingly identical calico cats.

OHora has fused bright and engaging artwork highlighting the beauty and diversity of this community apartment building with a truly endearing story that is sure to amuse young readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2791-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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