Winning and wondrous, this picture book is a compelling appreciation of neurodiversity.

THE CURIOSITIES

A boy learns to embrace his differences and to shed the darkness.

Miro, brown-skinned with dark hair, is surrounded by Curiosities, hazy creatures who show him “how to swim with the stars and tickle the songs from the earth.” Sometimes he sits down and puts his hands over his ears when the Curiosities get too noisy. Strangers stare or turn away, unable to see what makes him tick. With the guidance of an elder, Miro learns that his connections to people like him who “see all the oddments and snippets, all those hidden wonders and possibles waiting in the shadows," are what keep him strong. Affirming and uplifting, this poetic story is based on Fraillon’s experience with her child who has Tourette syndrome. Drawing from Filipino folklore and history, Lesnie depicts the Curiosities as the ghouls and monsters known as aswang, a visualization of what makes people with Tourette syndrome move, while the elder who helps Miro to his feet is based on the Babaylan, priestesses and community leaders connected to the spiritual world who sometimes exhibited neurodiverse traits. Lesnie’s immersive illustrations feature a ravishing palette beautifully depicting the changing colors of the sky and the sweeping landscapes of Miro’s waterfront home. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Winning and wondrous, this picture book is a compelling appreciation of neurodiversity. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77840-008-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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