This may not help similarly shy kids, but it may give readers some inspiration.

MIRABEL'S MISSING VALENTINES

A shy mouse gains some courage and some new friends, bringing the town together in the process.

Mirabel has always been very shy, but nevertheless she crafts homemade cards for her classmates for Valentine’s Day. The nervous girl forces her steps toward school but fails to notice the hole in her bag that lets the cards drop one by one in front of delighted townspeople: a lonely old woman with an empty mailbox, workers digging a hole, a father with a child, a gummed-up jogger, and “A garbage man enduring / yet another rotten smell / chuckled as he grabbed a scrap / before the scooper fell” (the only awkward line in the otherwise spot-on rhyming verse). But they all hear Mirabel cry out when she discovers her empty bag, and they return the cards: “Thanks for sharing them with us, / if only for a while.” That boost of confidence gets Mirabel through her class party, and on her walk home, her collection grows as her new friends add their own cards. Opening endpapers show Mirabel’s path to school and the local folks she will cross paths with; in the closing ones, the folks are now interacting with one another, lonely no more. Mueller’s digital artwork shows a town full of cuddly anthropomorphic animals. Mirabel is a white mouse.

This may not help similarly shy kids, but it may give readers some inspiration. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2739-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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