THE FIRST PUP

THE REAL STORY OF HOW BO GOT TO THE WHITE HOUSE

This stylish, jazzy introduction to both the First Family and their new dog provides an entertaining and simple-to-understand look at the current residents of the White House. Although the story focuses on the Obama family’s acquisition of a puppy, with the assistance of Senator Ted Kennedy, the bare-bones basics of the presidential election, famous landmarks in Washington, D.C., and life at the White House are also conveyed. Staake employs both traditional and digital methods to create his stylized illustrations, using exaggerated shapes and proportions such as an extra-long limousine and impossibly short diplomats. This style adds movement and flair to his work, though sometimes the Obama daughters appear as short as preschoolers and other times at their correct height. The elements of the dog’s arrival at the White House have been slightly altered, as the dog arrives in his own limousine to great fanfare and extensive news coverage, but this somewhat embellished retelling matches the exuberant nature of the appealing art. The spring of 2009 saw a host of First Dog books; this more mature work should win the vote. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-61346-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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