Animal lovers and stamp collectors, especially but not exclusively, will be enthralled.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Nothing will deter Sadie from her mission of transporting an elephant to her beloved Great-Aunt Josephine, who “lives almost completely alone and could really use the company.”

When the postmaster brings out a wheelbarrow full of stamps and a calculator, however, the carrot-topped heroine realizes she will need to find an alternative to mailing the pachyderm. She borrows a conveniently located biplane. Insiders will recognize this plane (inverted on the book jacket as it was on the most famous misprint in philatelic history); those who don’t know the reference will just laugh at an upside-down airplane with a goggle-wearing elephant. After it crashes in a river, Sadie boards, in succession, an alligator, freight train (commandeered by bean-eating masked monkeys) and an ice cream truck. When readers finally meet the aunt, it becomes clear that she has been the recipient of many similar presents. Stead’s fans will recognize the unique blend of quirky logic and compassion that drives his persistent wayfarers. Cordell’s carefree lines and dappled watercolors draw viewers in with bold action and tiny touches of humor. Portions of text are treated graphically, and it is likely that “chugga chugga chugga BEANS BEANS BEANS” will linger in children’s lexicons. Stamps do get their moment—in the conclusion and on the seek-and-find case beneath the dust jacket.

Animal lovers and stamp collectors, especially but not exclusively, will be enthralled. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-931-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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