In future, let’s hope Scout uncovers some mysteries worthy of her commitment to sleuthing.

SCOUTING FOR CLUES

From the Bark Park series , Vol. 2

A dog solves three mysteries.

Scout is a dog of undisclosed breed who appears to visit Bark Park daily with her human. There, she talks with her friends, eats snacks provided by her human, and solves mysteries. Each of the three chapters is a self-contained mystery that barely warrants the label. It may appear to be splitting hairs to point out that dogs most likely would recognize a sweater (which the plot of “The Mystery Material” turns on) even if they hadn’t seen one on another dog, considering how many humans wear sweaters. This also speaks to the quality of the mysteries. Early chapter-book readers may be developing their reading skills, but their critical-thinking skills will generally be advanced enough that the “mysteries” in this book will (most likely) not be mysteries to them. This suits the book best to readers who are more interested in vocabulary and reading practice than in puzzling out mysteries. And though there are some authentically doggy traits present (puppies dash off into danger; canine characters display a high regard for treats, etc.), the canine humor and charm found in other dog-centric books for the audience (such as Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers’ King & Kayla series) aren’t so prominent here. Pooler’s full-color spot illustrations help to distinguish the characters, and three separate factual notes that touch on elements found in each chapter conclude the book.

In future, let’s hope Scout uncovers some mysteries worthy of her commitment to sleuthing. (Mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6474-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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