Readers who are looking for more moxie in their lives will love this absurd adventure.

THE ONLY FISH IN THE SEA

Stead and Cordell take their readers on a big adventure to save a tiny fish.

A tall black boy named Sherman has big news to share with a pigtailed white girl named Sadie: bratty white birthday girl Amy Scott has decreed that goldfish are passé. Amy is so emphatic she’s thrown her birthday goldfish, still in its baggie, into the sea. Sadie disagrees, and aided by a band of chicly-dressed monkeys, she and Sherman begin an adventure to rescue the abandoned goldfish. The combination of Sadie’s steadfast confidence and Sherman’s facial reactions drive the story to a celebratory conclusion that brings the entire town (and an ostrich) together. Stead’s dialogue-only text is concise and dryly humorous, conveying both Sadie’s calm determination and humorous quips. Cordell’s artwork—a vigorously scratchy mixture of ink and watercolor—brings the characters to life. The presentation ranges from expansive details of sea life to quick sketches of action, but the focal point is always Sherman and his quiet fear as the adventure persists. Children will love examining each page to see the escapades of the monkey companions as they travel alongside the duo. The detailed artwork is better suited for lap-sit reads than large storytimes, and this may become a favorite part of the “getting ready for bed” ritual in many homes.

Readers who are looking for more moxie in their lives will love this absurd adventure. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-282-8

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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