Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner.

RAD!

With moral support and practice, anything is possible!

Skate! says Esther. / Stoked? says Chester. / Totally! say Hester and Sylvester. / Never, says Lester.” At the Beachside Skate Park, four cats are excited to use their skateboards, but one gray kitty is not. It seems Lester thinks skateboarding is “scary.” The other kitties gently cajole Lester to give it a try and practice. They pop a helmet on their reluctant companion’s head and say, “Please”—but when Lester says, “no” again, they roll into the park and have a “RAD!” time while Lester peers over the wall at them. When Lester concedes, “Maybe,” the others enthusiastically respond with “awesome,” “gnarly,” and “cool!” Lester doesn’t succeed the first time, but the four skateboarding veterans encourage the wobbly cat, and they all celebrate when Lester finally prevails. Everyone has a great time. Then Lester sees some surfers and suggests they try that tomorrow—but: “No, no, no, no way! say Esther, Chester, Hester, and Sylvester.” Bustard’s story is told entirely in her characters’ one-word exclamations and dialogue tags, using type style rather than quotation marks to denote their speech. It’s easy to follow, as Wiseman’s cartoons supply an unmistakable visual narrative. Cartoon kitties of various colors in helmets and streetwear skate in a park decorated in bright graffiti. Young listeners will identify with Lester’s fears and will soon be able to read the story on their own; as Chester says: “Righteous!”

Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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