For those who have lost home; for those who will always be searching.

FIREFLIES

Themes of displacement, community, and facing the unknown suffuse this picture book.

White text pops off warm, nighttime-blue double-page spreads. Dots of yellow light from anthropomorphic “fireflies” feel familiar and welcoming. The glowing fireflies have very human bodies, translucent wings, pale complexions, and elfin noses; they wear unremarkable Western clothing. Despite their transcendent qualities, the fireflies encounter very human needs of food and home as their dwellings in a city park are destroyed by excavators. With the spirit of a road trip, this existential quest commences as the intergenerational group soars through the evening with suitcases and maps in hand. Whether it’s due to a forgotten teddy, lost friends, or a misplaced sense of direction entirely, each featured firefly relies on encouragement from another in the party for the necessary confidence to move along. The ceaseless night and the uncertainty among so many fireflies remind readers that sometimes a destination will remain elusive, particularly for those forced into movement. The distinctive feel of stone-paper pages is a grounding complement to the uprooted nature of this narrative about a group of people involuntarily searching for a new home.

For those who have lost home; for those who will always be searching. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-16733-54-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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