Overlooking (again) the association of Chinese names with a tired joke, this may put a few first-day fears to rest, and it...

CHU'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Gaiman continues his sneeze pun in this look at a worried panda cub’s first day of school.

Chu’s expressed school worries are limited to “What will happen?” “Will they be nice?” and “Will they like me?” though the new student’s concerns (and his posture and facial expressions) will be familiar to any child facing school for the first time. Chu’s new teacher has a “friendly face,” and his animal classmates—ranging from a rhino and a giraffe down to a crab, a snake and a snail—all seem nice. The first activity the class does is to sit in a circle and tell their new friends their names and what they love to do best; the teacher writes their names on the chalkboard. (Fans of Chu’s Day will see the punch line coming.) Their talents and things they love are wide-ranging—climbing trees, singing, reading books—but none is as unusual as Chu’s. After two wordless double-page spreads depicting both the post-sneeze surprise and destruction and subsequent recovery and delight, Chu drolly says, “That’s what I do.” Rex’s oil-and–mixed-media illustrations capture the complex feelings that accompany the first day of school, and Chu is believable when he tells his parents, “I’m not worried anymore.”

Overlooking (again) the association of Chinese names with a tired joke, this may put a few first-day fears to rest, and it will probably also cause some tension-relieving laughter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-222397-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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