The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous...

HOW DO YOU DO?

One animal helps two animals out of the doldrums.

Water Buffalo and Crane are in a rut. The weather’s too hot, and “when one is all the time hot, days grow long and the world small.” Indeed, their hill is exaggeratedly rounded, as if they’re standing on a shrunken Earth. The air’s yellow; Water Buffalo’s eyelids are at half-mast, and he licks sweat off his lip. Their expressions are amusing—but not to them. What can break their sweltering, oppressive gloom? “ ‘How do you do?’ said someone new.” An unforeseen rhyme! Goat licks Water Buffalo and Crane, and “then, as sudden as summer rain, Goat started dancing.” Dancing is contagious. The three dance so high their heads leave the page. “They forgot the sun. They forgot the heat. Had the earth ever smelled so sweet?” Using gouache paint on watercolor paper, Marino swirls her hot yellows into cooler blues and greens, then finally into blue-pinks. Goat departs, but Crane and Water Buffalo are changed for good: the earth feels pleasant, and there are new animals to greet. Is the “summer rain,” as per the text, merely a figure of speech describing Goat’s sudden dancing? Or is it as real as the illustrations show it, sprinkling down? Does it matter?

The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous expressions keep it light throughout—anyone who’s needed this kind of intervention will relate. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61963-807-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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