Love Stinks!

Random. (Step into Reading). Dec. 2022. 32p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593488461; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593488454.
K-Gr 2–Children will root for a young skunk searching for love in this comic reader full of visual support for emerging readers. Many pages feature an animal pair and a two-word sentence, such as “Frog love,” that rhymes with the text on the preceding spread. While some of the visuals clearly support a heteronormative view of love, there is enough representation of animals without any gender clues that allow for the diversity of love in the world to be included. At the conclusion of the story, a piece of stinky cheese connects two skunks, and “stinky love” wins in the end. Some of the animals will be easier for children to read than others: “Gnat love,” for example, seems a challenging choice for a level one reader. However, the visual clues will make this a pleasant read for animal lovers or on Valentine’s Day.
VERDICT Larger collections seeking comic readers for young elementary age students will find this a loveable choice.

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