Cheerful and bright, this heroine calls for authenticity and representation.


Amy Wu flexes her problem-solving skills again in this sequel to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (2019).

After reading them a story about dragons, Ms. Mary has Amy and her classmates design their own dragons. While her classmates quickly fill the show-and-tell table with winged, pot-bellied dragons fashioned with modeling clay and stamps, Amy struggles. At first she paints a thin, long-bodied dragon inspired by Eastern cultures, but her classmates are confused and challenge the authenticity of her creation since it is a departure from the Western dragons showcased during storytime. The straightforward text narrates as Amy doubts her design, eventually drawing Western dragons yet still feeling dissatisfied. Accompanied by her classmates Willa and Sam, Amy returns home to Grandma, who tells the trio tales about Asian dragons, which causes Amy to remember the dragon costume used during Chinese New Year that’s stored in the attic. Inspired, Amy is finally able to showcase a dragon at school that takes a bit from both cultures and is a design she can call entirely her own. Chua again brings plenty of colorful spirit with her cartoons, perfectly capturing Amy’s fun, creative energy and surrounding her Chinese protagonist with a diverse school community. (Sam has brown skin and straight, black hair, and Willa presents White.) What is even more appealing is the courage Amy models to readers to stay true to oneself, especially when faced with a lack of role models. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78.8% of actual size.)

Cheerful and bright, this heroine calls for authenticity and representation. (crafts) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6363-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


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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