A bright and cheerful story dimmed just a bit by a lack of specificity.

RED SHOES

This is the story of a beloved pair of red shoes that finds a home with two little girls from vastly different worlds.

Shortly after Malika, a little Black girl, spies the pair of red shoes in a shop window, Nana surprises her with them. Malika loves her shoes and the “click-clack-click” sound they make when she walks. She wears them while dancing with her father, during holiday get-togethers with her family, and even while at play. But one day she realizes her shoes have become too small, and “they don’t let her forget her feet have grown!” Malika and Nana take the shoes to the thrift shop, where they are purchased and taken on a trip to Africa to become a gift for a special little girl named Amina, who has just fasted for half the month of Ramadan for the first time. The story is thoroughly charming, and English nails Malika’s joy in her shiny, red shoes—readers who have loved and given away favorite toys, clothing, or even shoes will recognize her attachment instantly. The illustrations are vibrant, with lots of brown faces that have subtle varying shades; Amina and the women in her family cover their hair. However beautiful the story and illustrations, it is unfortunate that the book locates Amina’s home only in “Africa” rather than a specific country. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 28% of actual size.)

A bright and cheerful story dimmed just a bit by a lack of specificity. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-11460-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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