A delightful lesson in the joy of living in the moment.

MAX AND MARLA ARE GOING ON A TRIP

In this sequel to Max and Marla Are Flying Together (2019), best friends Max and Marla embark on a special summer adventure.

Max, an upbeat white boy, and his owl pal, Marla, plan a trip to Australia to “see all the animals along the way.” After ensuring his camera works perfectly to “capture every moment,” Max packs for their trip. Maneuvering their small plane, Max fails to see pelicans flying next to them because he’s fooling with his camera. (Hands-free laws seem not to apply.) At the boat dock, Max searches the sky with his camera, missing seals behind him. Rowing their boat, Max scans the distant ocean through his camera, missing dolphins leaping right around him. Max is clearly too engrossed in his camera to see the wonders all around, prompting wily Marla to surreptitiously take action. As a result, the two friends experience Australia “with their eyes wide open,” meet new friends, and see “wonders everywhere.” Gently humorous illustrations rendered in black outlines and soft colors chronicle Max and Marla methodically preparing for their trip, soaring high in their small plane wearing goggles and aviator helmets, stalwartly rowing their solitary boat with marine life teeming beneath, and joyously interacting with koala bears and kangaroos from the contrasting perspectives of intimate cameos and dramatic full- and double-page vistas.

A delightful lesson in the joy of living in the moment. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51570-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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