RIDE THE WIND

A boy rescues an albatross after it is hooked by a fishing line.

Javier is out at sea with his fisherman father, Tomas, and Uncle Felipe, helping with the fishing lines, when he sees an albatross has become hooked. Uncle Felipe unhooks the bird and throws it onto a corner of the boat, ignoring it. But Javier sneaks the still-alive bird into the boat’s hold and later, when they reach their home port, hides the bird in the storeroom behind the house. Caring for the bird with the help of neighbors, Javier hopes to have the bird healed by the time he goes back out to sea in two weeks. But he comes home one day to discover that his father, having found out about the bird, has sold it to a fairground manager. Javier’s already-tenuous relationship with his father since the death of his mother boils over. Javier finds the bird and runs off with her to the cliff’s edge, reckless of his own safety, as he is determined to convince the bird to fly away. The assured storytelling has a crispness that feels fresh and immediate, and the colorful illustrations echo this immediacy and confidence in their spontaneous-looking execution. All human characters are illustrated with beige skin and dark hair and eyes, and the honorifics (Señor, Señora, Señorita) probably indicate, due to albatross range, a South American setting.

Taut and heartwarming. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1284-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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