A book for emergent readers to befriend.

PIG AND CAT ARE PALS

From the I Like To Read series

Can Pig and Cat’s friendship endure when Dog appears on the scene?

Many early readers include an odd-couple pair of friends whose interactions create the central drama of the plot. Not so in Florian’s latest offering: Pig and Cat enjoy all the same things, and they enjoy doing them together. Rather than presenting a clash due to individual differences, Florian boosts the tension when Pig befriends Dog and leaves Cat in the dust. The text reads, “Cat is all alone. / Cat is sad,” while accompanying crayon-and–colored-pencil illustrations use expressive techniques to isolate Cat and visually convey its sadness. The consciously childlike illustrations succeed in communicating emotion and offer many whimsical details that provide visual interest, but they may prove a bit busy for those working to find and decode the limited, controlled text on the pages, which seems aimed at the very newest of readers. This concern aside, readers of all abilities will grasp the story’s happy ending: although Pig doesn’t prove to be a terribly sensitive or attentive friend, Dog notices Cat’s distress and says, “You can play with us,” ushering in a conclusion in which “Pig and Cat and Dog are pals.”

A book for emergent readers to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3858-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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