Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to...

I LOVE DOGS!

A little boy travels around a bustling, big-city park observing dogs of many varieties before finally acquiring a dog of his own.

The title page introduces the boy who narrates the story, showing him gazing up at a red sign that orders, “Adopt a dog today!” As the boy wanders through the huge park, he follows multiple identical signs that point the way to a canine adoption center. The short, humorous text describes a diverse canine population through descriptive rhyming pairs, such as “nosy dogs, / cozy dogs” and “naughty dogs, / haughty dogs.” Stylized, computer-generated illustrations capture the antics of the happily romping canines and the eccentricities of their various owners. The main character is sometimes cleverly concealed within the illustrations of the busy park scenes, but he can always be spotted by his tuft of red hair and striped shirt. The illustrations carefully match the descriptions of the dogs, whether spotty, dotty, wrinkly or crinkly, and the bold, jazzy style perks up a story that isn’t particularly original. As always, Staake depicts skin tones of just about every color, including blue, lavender and green; the protagonist has very light brown skin.

Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to read on their own. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-117057-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

I AM ENOUGH

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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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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