An amusing tale with heart that preschoolers will enjoy.


An energetic toddler plays hide-and-seek with her dog, a small but spunky canine named Buster.

In the course of their play, the fluffy white dog tries to hide under a table, behind a chair, and behind a huge, stuffed toy bear. The unnamed little girl always finds Buster, charging at him with a loud “CHAAA!” that makes Buster’s heart thump. The toddler, who looks about 18 months or so, is full of the typical energy and antics of a child her age, charging through the house, knocking over a vase of flowers, and tossing peas in the air with wild abandon. When the child is finally tucked into bed at night, Buster leaps onto her bed with a “CHAAA!” of his own. In a satisfying conclusion, the dog is cuddled up in the girl’s arms, with their hearts beating together. The little girl’s mother and father are present but don’t have much interaction or control over dog or daughter; the family is white. Digitally composed illustrations have a cheerful charm, with particularly funny expressions on Buster’s face. A few illustrations have several side-by-side images of Buster in motion, which may be interpreted by younger readers as multiple dogs rather than as a progression of just one. The emphasis on heartbeats and the thumping noise of a beating heart are also concepts that may be beyond toddlers’ comprehension.

An amusing tale with heart that preschoolers will enjoy. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8787-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...


From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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A forgettable tale.


Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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