Certainly an ode to dog lovers, the conclusion may leave readers perplexed.

MY DREAM DOG

A boy wonders what his dog dreams about.

A little white boy introduces readers to his dog, Scooter, whom the boy knows well. He knows what make Scooter’s tail wag: treats, people food, squeaky toys, and his dog friends—all labeled on one double-page spread. The things that make Scooter growl are similarly presented. The little boy continues chronicling what he knows about Scooter: words Scooter knows, when Scooter’s thirsty, and when he’s scared, etc., but the one thing the little boy doesn’t know is what Scooter dreams about. This seems natural to wonder about, but the answer that satisfies the little boy—him—feels a little forced, as is the sudden appearance of the character (his grandfather, who’s fishing) who provides it. With most characters (both child and adult) referenced only in the text, and the backgrounds up until the end of the book either basic washes or generic places (home, school, etc.) it seems especially odd to see an adult engaged in a very specific activity. Additionally, the proffered answer seems arbitrary. Perhaps best known for his illustrations of the Mr. Putter and Tabby and Gooseberry Park series, Howard’s human characters’ stylized faces make the dogs stand out as both expressive and delightful, while the hand-lettered text and child narration complement each other.

Certainly an ode to dog lovers, the conclusion may leave readers perplexed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5838-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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