A pleasing twist on a friendship tale that gently teaches about cultural manners and boundaries.

SEALED WITH A KISS

A made-for-storytime tale for little ones who do (and do not!) love affection.

Seal has just arrived at the national zoo from France and is eager to make “zee” new friends. So when no one visits her, she sets out to smooch her way around the zoo, believing she is making friends as she goes. However, her new zoo mates are less than thrilled by her fishy smell and (they think) overly friendly manners. Oblivious, Seal kisses on until at last the snow leopard sets her straight with a growl: “You stink!” Embarrassed, she slinks back to her pool as Sparrow, the only animal to initiate a friendship with Seal, reminds the other animals that once they, too, were new at the zoo. Together, the residents find their own way to welcome their new neighbor, and friendships begin at last on a good note. Soft acrylic, pencil, and charcoal illustrations feature wide-eyed, wildly dramatic animals in numerous kissing scenes. Young readers will squeal with delight at the onomatopoeic responses given by the animals, including “Ewww!” “Pee-yew!” and “Blech!” even as they root for Seal to win them over and, perhaps, rethink some of their own assumptions about cultural differences in their own settings. The humorous text offers numerous examples of rich language to build children’s vocabularies.

A pleasing twist on a friendship tale that gently teaches about cultural manners and boundaries. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247577-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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