More Toy Story than Corduroy, a satisfying tale of unexpected friendship.

I AM NOT A DOG TOY

A spoiled girl rudely rejects a birthday gift of a teddy bear and flings it over to the eagerly rambunctious family dog.

The stuffed bear, welcomed by the dog, insists it is “a fancy kids’ toy with lots of pockets,” and indeed the vest it wears is festooned with them. It is not meant to be a disgusting, chewed, and torn-up dog toy. After being ignored by the little girl one too many times, the bear is eventually thrown into “the wedge” between her bed and the wall to join her other discards. The bear finally relents, giving in to the dog’s persistent cajoling to play and ultimately have lots of fun as a dog toy. Black-outlined cartoons of a scruffy, floppy-eared mutt and a smug brown bear dressed in a utility vest expand on the dialogue-only narrative. The text does not use speech balloons to attribute the dialogue but rather a different typeface for the various characters. Empathy for the bear builds as the girl’s callous actions continue. Choosing friends can be a tricky road to follow in life and rejection a difficult reality to accept. Readers will cheer when the dog’s boundless exuberance eventually counters the girl’s incessant dismissal to create a satisfying bond, and dog lovers will certainly appreciate the sentiments behind the dog’s role in the story. The girl, the only human in the story, is a child of color. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

More Toy Story than Corduroy, a satisfying tale of unexpected friendship. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11901-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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