A morality tale whose moral may go missing.

BLOB

THE UGLIEST CREATURE IN THE WORLD

Life is a bowl of cherries when you are voted the ugliest animal in the world—until next year’s contest.

For years, Blob the fish has ascended from his 3,000-foot-deep Pacific home, donned a disguise so as not to make passers-by faint, and attended the world’s-ugliest-animal contest. He has captured second and third but never the prize. This year would be different. There might be a bald uakari monkey, a naked mole rat, an aye-aye lemur, a proboscis monkey, an axolotl, a Vietnamese leaf-nosed bat in the running—all as repulsive as can be under the hand of the extremely artful Tallec—but Blob walks away with the sash and crown for his slimy, graceless, sheepish, pitiful self. He becomes the darling of the animal world and lives the high life for a year, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and becoming spoiled rotten and then depressed as his year approaches its end. He must hand his crown to, gulp, a forked-tailed caterpillar, and there is nowhere to go but down—3,000 feet down, back home, where, “like any traveler who returns home, Blob has many stories to tell. Sometimes, the bright lights and sparkling diamonds he describes seem far from beautiful.” The change is abrupt and awfully subtle—readers who blink may miss it, though alert caregivers can use it as a springboard for conversation.

A morality tale whose moral may go missing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59270-207-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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