A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all.


Working to recruit a walrus as a playmate, a small boy living near the ocean serendipitously discovers a new friend.

When young Wendell spies a walrus-shaped cloud, he imagines having a real walrus named Roger. They would tell jokes, ride bikes, climb trees, build forts, fly kites, draw, and “have the most stupendiferous, cosmically colossal best time of their lives.” After a trip to Uncle Zed’s Pet Emporium fails to produce a walrus, Wendell resorts to tossing a bottle with his personal invitation to a walrus into the ocean. On an adjoining cliff, Wendell notices a boy named Morrell tossing his own letter to a whale into the waves. Waiting by the ocean, Wendell and Morrell eventually decide “to pass the time together,” eventually doing everything they’d imagined doing with a walrus and a whale. Sprightly, lighthearted illustrations capture Wendell’s infectious energy and enthusiasm in loose pencil outlines against pale, expansive watercolor washes denoting hillsides, ocean, and sky. Humorous vignettes of the ever optimistic Wendell playing with an imaginary Roger, oblivious to the impracticalities of a walrus biking, tree-climbing, fort-building, kite-flying, or drawing, prove highly amusing, while scenes of Wendell, too absorbed in his walrus quest to notice Morrell’s parallel whale hunt, suggest the upbeat finale. Wendell has red hair and pale skin; Morrell has tightly curled black hair and brown skin.

A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-602-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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