A cute mindfulness primer that will especially appeal to dog lovers.

BEING A DOG

A TAIL OF MINDFULNESS

An affable dog and its human model mindfulness.

The brown, short-legged mutt with expressive eyes and a wagging tail is definitely the star of the book. Its companion, an androgynous child with straight black hair and rose beige skin, doesn’t show up until the sixth spread. The slight story follows the pair through a series of ordinary days as the seasons change. The dog and child are often together as they eat, play, swim, socialize, and sleep. The text is filled with frequent mindfulness reminders like “feel the emotion, then let it go and BE,” and “notice the night. Feel the fatigue.” Young readers are encouraged to imitate typical doggy behaviors that will help them maintain a moment-to-moment awareness of their thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surroundings: “Like a dog, feel what you're feeling: Bark if you're worried. Yowl if you're sad. Growl if you're angry.” The winsome digital illustrations, created using cut paper and scanned watercolors, are convincingly textured and multidimensional. Two diagrammatic closing double-page spreads present instructions for taking a mindful nature walk with a friend and include suggestions of what you might notice when you see, hear, sniff, taste, or feel “like a dog” in the spring, summer, fall, or winter. The final page outlines a mindful breathing exercise and shows a picture of child and dog sitting with eyes closed on a blue rug. One spread shows a group of children at a playground, all of whom present White except for two boys with light-brown skin.

A cute mindfulness primer that will especially appeal to dog lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-306791-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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