Enjoy the art, ignore the story.


Animal best friends squabble and then make up.

Tim, a light green squirrel, and Teo, a red rabbit, are friends who believe that “there is nothing better than eating hazelnuts on a mountaintop.” When the last hazelnut disappears, however, each blames the other, and they’re both prepared to end the friendship over it. Luckily, after a day and night of anger, they simultaneously decide to forgive each other for eating the last hazelnut and bring a new bowl of nuts to the scene of the conflict. When it’s discovered that a thieving bird was responsible the whole time, the two animals agree that sharing is a good thing and that they should “roll down the mountain together.” The illustrations are remarkable, pleasantly garish, and detailed, with the animals sporting particularly flamboyant outfits (such as Teo’s black-and-white skintight pants with delicate black shoes. The story, translated from Spanish, is rendered in the present tense, not a good choice for this kind of read-aloud. And the animals’ language is stilted and uncomfortable from the first exchange: “ ‘Hi, Teo! I was looking for you. I’ve just picked some hazelnuts. Shall we share them?’ ‘What a great idea, Tim! I love hazelnuts!’ ” It goes on to give children monotone scripts for conflict resolution rather than a story: “ ‘You know what, Teo? It feels good to share.’ ‘I totally agree, Tim.’ ”

Enjoy the art, ignore the story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64686-055-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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