This silly story turns convention on its head, and kids who get the joke will surely giggle.

THE GREAT PUPPY INVASION

Hordes of puppies take over the town of Strictville, and no one knows how to react.

Strictville has a very bold motto: “All Work and No Play Makes for a Great Day!” So when a tiny puppy wanders into town, it is seen as a menace. No cuteness or play allowed! But things grow worse when more and more puppies come. The dark-skinned, female mayor with fantastic cat-eye glasses shouts, “We must get rid of these adorable creatures!” The townsfolk try everything: throwing sticks (the puppies just bring them back), chasing them (the puppies love the game), and feeding them (that is when the tail-wagging starts). Ultimately, they decide the safest place is indoors, and everyone runs home. Until the tiniest puppy, with the biggest eyes, catches the attention of a brown-skinned boy named Teddy. The entire multiracial town peers out in horror from their windows while Teddy dares to shake the pup’s tiny, fuzzy paw. It is…delightful! Strictville becomes not so strict after all. Smith’s cartoonish people pair well with the mock mass hysteria of a puppy invasion, her tidy streetscapes teeming with puppies appropriately Twilight Zone–esque. Hints of a new cute creature coming to town just may shake things up again.

This silly story turns convention on its head, and kids who get the joke will surely giggle. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-99917-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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