Good fun for the preschool set and slightly beyond.

OH, HARRY!

Combine a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet with a National Book Award–winning artist and, honestly, it's hard to go wrong.

Among the elegant equines at Adams & Son, Harry the Horse stands out—not for his admitted homeliness and lack of show-ring liveliness, but for his ability to soothe and befriend each and every restless new horse in the barn. Enter a high-strung human child. Has Harry met his match? Kumin knows horses—she breeds them—and her affection for them comes through clearly. Her jaunty couplets beg to be read out loud, though a few—“But before he set Algie down again / Harry shook him to dust off the grain”—strain just a bit under the rhyme scheme. As he did in The Tale of Funny Cide (written by The Funny Cide Team, 2006) and Our Cats Nick and Nora (written by Isabelle Harper, 1995), Moser uses vibrant watercolors from multiple perspectives against dramatic white backgrounds to convey animal personality and movement in an uncluttered way. His Harry grins and rolls his eyes in ways that, like the text, are fanciful but grounded in reality. Harry the Horse emerges as a full personality, and if the same can’t be said for young Algernon, that's a small quibble.

Good fun for the preschool set and slightly beyond. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-439-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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