Detective Dog Nell is quite a satisfactory sleuth. Surely she has more cases to solve? (Picture book. 3-7)

THE DETECTIVE DOG

A talented dog named Nell uses her acute sense of smell to solve mysteries in her neighborhood, including the complete disappearance of a classroom library.

Rollicking, rhyming text describes Nell’s successes at solving little puzzles and finding missing items for her owner, a 6-year-old boy named Peter. Detective Dog Nell accompanies Peter to school each Monday, where she listens to children read stories from their well-stocked library shelves. One Monday, the books are all missing from the shelves, and the students and teacher are despondent. Nell leads the class of children and their teacher, Mr. Jones, on a search to find the books, which have been stolen by a (nonscary) giant named Ted. Then ever resourceful Nell leads the group to the library, where Ted gets his own library card so he can read books as much as he likes. Donaldson’s pitch-perfect text effectively uses humorous twists and rich vocabulary as well as a fine sense of melodramatic pacing. Bold watercolor-and-pencil illustrations give all the characters distinct personalities and plant funny details to spot in the busy double-page spreads. Some of the townspeople have brown skin, as do two students in Peter’s class; the other characters, including Peter, Ted, and Mr. Jones, seem to be white. A male primary school teacher and a female canine title character are welcome representations countering stereotypes, especially dog protagonists who default to male.

Detective Dog Nell is quite a satisfactory sleuth. Surely she has more cases to solve? (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15676-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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