A cute escapade for the silliest readers.

POE WON'T GO

A pink elephant named Poe sits in the middle of a town’s only road and won’t budge—until someone bothers to find out why he’s there.

The people of Prickly Valley aren’t happy that Poe is blocking their road. A traffic jam forms. People honk and yell at Poe. A traffic cop writes him a ticket. When that doesn’t work, they try making all sorts of noises to shoo him away, from trombones to tap dancing, then turn to begging and bribing. They bring mice, cranes, and magicians. The mayor forms committees. Balloons, fire hoses, and the force of all the people in town can’t get Poe to go. Finally, a brown-skinned girl named Marigold, who’s wearing a hijab that reflects her name, asks the mayor (a pink-skinned woman with white hair and pearls) if anyone has thought to ask Poe why he won’t go. Marigold, who is “fluent in both kitten and hedgehog,” says that “anyone can speak elephant if they just listen hard enough.” She climbs up and listens closely to Poe, who smiles for the first time, then she tells the crowd Poe is waiting for a friend. The mayor doesn’t believe her, but a news reporter thinks he may have seen Poe’s friend. OHora’s matte-finish acrylic-and-pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Madeline’s but with a pink and gold palette; Marigold is an endearing heroine. After the buildup and anticipation though, the story’s conclusion (Poe was sitting on his friend, a monkey named Moe) is more puzzling than satisfying.

A cute escapade for the silliest readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-9059-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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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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