The stylish illustrations and sly wit on display here will please Gall’s fans and likely win him new ones.

DOG VS. CAT

Traditional adversaries are (eventually) united by a common enemy.

In the beginning, Dog and Cat are friends. Selected separately by Mr. and Mrs. Button, they make the best of being forced to share a room. Soon enough, though, differing interests, styles and behaviors lead them to sabotage each other in the hope of becoming an only pet. Full-page pictures, double-page spreads and smaller vignettes, all created with colored pencil and enhanced with a Wacom drawing tablet, reveal the extremely anthropomorphic lives of these entertaining animals. Brown, blocky Dog has a recliner, a bed, lots of sports equipment and plenty of snacks. Sleek black Cat, by contrast, has sharp suits, lots of books and what appears to be a chemistry set. Some details, like the finned car that carries Dog home and the black-and-white photos that cover the endpapers, have a retro vibe that suits the text’s deadpan humor. Dog and Cat, meanwhile, manage to convey emotions clearly with just the quirk of an eyebrow or a sideways glare. What drives these two sibling stand-ins to bury the hatchet won’t surprise many readers, but their solution suits the overall silliness to a T and will likely lead at least some listeners to long for their own special place.

The stylish illustrations and sly wit on display here will please Gall’s fans and likely win him new ones. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-23801-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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