A welcome addition to the vast sea of friendship books for children.

OONA AND THE SHARK

From the Oona series , Vol. 2

Can Oona the mermaid figure out how to get Stanley the hammerhead shark to be her friend?

A little, cherubic, dark-skinned mermaid with an epic Afro has no problem making friends with sea creatures of all sorts. She navigates her undersea world with an endearing combination of confidence, care, charm, and creativity that wins everyone over…except for Stanley. Oona shares some of her prized possessions with him—a fishing hat, a loud musical horn, and a squeaky, inflatable unicorn swimming tube—in an attempt to strike up a friendship, but Stanley doesn’t take to the items in the least. She then tries to win him over with her flashy inventions, but he is engrossed in his seashell collection, and Oona only succeeds in rankling him. Exasperated but determined, she resorts to throwing a big party; alas, Stanley doesn’t even attend. Only when she dives down to the ocean floor in defeat and experiences complete peace and quiet does she realize what she needs to do to connect with the shy shark. Inspired, she goes to her workshop and carefully creates a special invention that draws Stanley right to her side. Figueroa’s digital watercolor illustrations use washes and blooms effectively to convey an underwater atmosphere, though the shifting color scheme creates a slightly disjointed visual experience. Oona’s missteps and eventual success will inspire children to be more observant and tolerant of personalities that are different from their own.

A welcome addition to the vast sea of friendship books for children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-307142-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more