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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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