This metaphor for the construction of self offers much to thoughtful readers

OVER THE ROOFTOPS, UNDER THE MOON

An individual’s relationships to self and community are pondered in this metaphorical outing.

“You can be far away inside, / and far away outside. / With others, but still on your own.” Smudgy, mixed-media paintings use negative space to depict a long-legged bird that’s the off-white of the mottled paper. It leans against a chimney, soars over a city, lounges with others of its ilk. As Lawson’s second-person text continues, the bird begins to interact with the city’s people, its feathers taking on colors and patterns worn by the diverse human residents. It rides a roller coaster with the humans as its flock takes wing. “But then snow falls / and something changes again.” As the humans don their winter coats, the bird flies from the icy climes to another city, with archways and palm trees, where it rejoins its flock, “alone and together / over the rooftops / and under the moon.” Iranian-born Kazemi’s illustrations are as porous and open to interpretation as Lawson’s text. The bare bones of the visual story are accessible to children who have begun to understand the fundamentals of migration, but they are also, appropriately, enigmatic. Children beginning to understand that they are separate from those who surround them will sense the emotional truth that underpins both pictures and text even if they cannot yet articulate it.

This metaphor for the construction of self offers much to thoughtful readers . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59270-262-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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