The message of inclusion is often seen in picture books, but sharing food to make friends is a gentle suggestion that may...

FRIENDS

A little girl from far away starts her first day at school, but she doesn’t fit in.

She wants one friend to keep her company at lunchtime. Then one day, her delicious food attracts the attention of a squirrel, to whom she offers an ear of corn. They eat and play together, attracting the attention of a rabbit, who is invited by the squirrel to join them the next day. The rabbit then invites a raccoon, who invites another little girl. Soon, everyone is sharing and playing together. When a new student comes from even further away, he is warmly welcomed—and other new arrivals watch them hopefully. Ikegami uses a soft, fuzzy illustration style, relying on color to set the mood. She starts with icy white, warming up as she goes, and by the time the children and animals are eating and playing together, readers are treated to double-page spreads full of rich color. The words are sparse, with the repeated phrase "One day..." highlighting turning points, but the illustrations do most of the work of explaining first the girl's isolation and then the joy of being a part of the group. The protagonist eats with chopsticks and has long, brown hair; her classmates exhibit a variety of skin tones and hair colors and textures.

The message of inclusion is often seen in picture books, but sharing food to make friends is a gentle suggestion that may help children starting school or meeting new arrivals with a language barrier. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2550-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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