This tale of celebrating inner beauty should appeal to Donaldson and Scheffler’s fans as well as to animal lovers.

THE UGLY FIVE

Fan favorites Donaldson and Scheffler (Zog and the Flying Doctors, 2017, etc.) return with a rhyming introduction to the so-called ugliest animals on the African savanna.

The story begins with the “Big Five” (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino, leopard) and friends lounging about being “glorious,” “cool,” “fine,” “divine,” “graceful,” and “great.” When a wildebeest enters the scene, the other animals don’t label her, but she proclaims herself “the ugly one” (though the description of her physical appearance doesn’t entirely match the illustration). The wildebeest doesn’t seem bothered to be ugly and soon meets the hyena, who she thinks is even uglier than she, and the hyena concurs. The wildebeest invites the hyena to “Join the club,” and a pattern emerges. As they walk through the savanna, they’re joined by a vulture, a warthog, and a marabou stork. Each time a new animal joins the bunch, they modify their silly song about how ugly they are. Readers are sure to enjoy singing along to this, though making the rest of the text rhyme is sometimes a stretch. At the end, their children proclaim them to be good parents and the loveliest of animals. Scheffler’s signature illustrations add humor to the story and bring the setting to life.

This tale of celebrating inner beauty should appeal to Donaldson and Scheffler’s fans as well as to animal lovers. (author’s note, picture glossary) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-24953-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more