A quiet summer picture book to share with the young ones, one of a seasonal quartet featuring Gretchen and her siblings.

GRETCHEN OVER THE BEACH

A young girl escapes her reality and immerses herself in her imagination in this summery tale.

Gretchen is the youngest of four siblings, all white, and she’s constantly left behind and ignored by the older kids. One breezy summer morning, the whole family goes to the beach to enjoy the sun and the waves. Little Gretchen pleads, “Wait up!” to no avail as the other children splash in the water, so she just plays on the sand with her “roly-polys,” a clutch of egg-shaped toys. The wind blows hard, snatching away her new hat with fancy ribbons. With a futile “Come back here!” Gretchen tries to grab it back, but the hat pays her as much mind as her siblings do. With the help of her hat ribbon, the clouds, a gull, and her roly-polys (amusingly, they sprout little arms and legs here), she takes a break from her frustration and loneliness, flying to her own imaginative world. In this short and simple story, Alley emphasizes looking on the bright side of things and making the best out of imperfect situations. It’s clear that Gretchen’s imaginary adventure is thoroughly satisfying. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations, done in a pastel palette, display images of lighthouses, beach grass, and other flora along with Gretchen and her siblings, giving readers a vivid depiction of a coastal New England landscape.

A quiet summer picture book to share with the young ones, one of a seasonal quartet featuring Gretchen and her siblings. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-90708-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity.

I AM GOLDEN

An immigrant couple’s empowering love letter to their child.

Baby Mei rests in her parents’ embrace, flanked by Chinese architecture on one side and the New York skyline on the other. She will be a bridge across the “oceans and worlds and cultures” that separate her parents from their homeland, China. Mei—a Chinese word which means beautiful—shares a name with her family’s new home: Měi Guó (America). Her parents acknowledge the hypocrisy of xenophobia: “It’s a strange world we live in—people will call you different with one breath and then say that we all look the same with the next angry breath.” Mei will have the responsibility of being “teacher and translator” to her parents. They might not be able to completely shield her from racism, othering, and the pressures of assimilation, but they can reassure and empower her—and they do. Mei and young readers are encouraged to rely on the “golden flame” of strength, power, and hope they carry within them. The second-person narration adds intimacy to the lyrical text. Diao’s lovely digital artwork works in tandem with Chen’s rich textual imagery to celebrate Chinese culture, family history, and language. The illustrations incorporate touchstones of Chinese mythology and art—a majestic dragon, a phoenix, and lotus flowers—as well as family photographs. One double-page spread depicts a lineup of notable Chinese Americans. In the backmatter, Chen and Diao relay their own family stories of immigration. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84205-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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