Overall, a sweet, gentle picture book about friendship and belonging.

THIS IS A DOG BOOK!

What is a bunny doing in a dog book?

The answer, according to the rabbit in question, is that it is really a dog. The dogs in the book are skeptical, and they proceed to put the bunny through a series of tests to prove, once and for all, just what kind of creature it is. The bunny—who brings a box of dog biscuits along just to set the right tone—proceeds to prove that it loves to play and wag its tail. Additionally, it uses its huge, cute eyes to get out of trouble. For a minute, the question of whether or not the bunny is willing to smell dog poop appears to be a deciding factor. Luckily for the bunny, the dogs eventually agree that the most important criterion for inclusion in a dog book is being a good friend. When the bunny promises that it knows the importance of friendship, the dogs welcome the bunny into the book—but what about a friendly cow…? This humorous book has sparkling moments of cleverness and wit. The simple red, black, and white inked illustrations are textured and dynamic, gesturing at dogness rather than replicating it exactly, and each picture shimmers with movement. The book’s twist ending is both funny and unexpected. Unfortunately, the resolution of the conflict feels trite, and many of the jokes are more silly than truly funny. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-16.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 28.8% of actual size.)

Overall, a sweet, gentle picture book about friendship and belonging. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0493-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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