Simple text and bold, graphic illustrations celebrate our interconnection with the creatures who share our world.

WE ALL PLAY

KIMÊTAWÂNAW

Everyone loves to play! Award-winning author/illustrator Flett shares the joyful antics of young animals as they romp in much the same way as human children.

The rhythmic text offers both rich vocabulary and a page-turning chant. Woodland animals “hide and hop / and sniff and sneak” while Indigenous children, depicted in differing shades of brown, run, skip, jump, and hunt for butterflies. “We play too! kimêtawânaw mîna,” they proclaim in the refrain. Aquatic animals “swim and squirt / and bubble and bend” while children swim under the water and float on its surface, in inner tubes. On the prairie, snakes “slip and slide” through the grass while buffalo “rumble and roll.” And bears “wiggle and wobble” as both they and children play (in separate double-page spreads) in the snow. At last, “side by side, animals fall asleep,” and after a day full of fun, “we do too. nîstanân mîna.” The animals are not named within the primary text, leaving it to readers to identify the hopping bunnies, the spouting beluga whale calves, and the yawning wolf pups. Flett’s characteristically minimalist compositions are deceptively simple. Readers who slow down to look will be charmed by the cricket that hops in tandem with a rabbit and the fox that stares in bemusement at a turtle. This celebration of nature is sprinkled with words from the Cree language, and a closing glossary provides both Cree and English names of the animals depicted; a note provides guidance on Cree pronunciation for readers not familiar with the language.

Simple text and bold, graphic illustrations celebrate our interconnection with the creatures who share our world. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-607-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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