The combination of a perky, naughty dog and lots of dirt and mud will appeal to kids who like a story of an adventurous pooch

A DOG NAMED DOUG

A large, golden-brown dog named Doug spends all his time and energy digging huge holes and extensive tunnels, with some surprising results.

The rollicking, rhyming text details all Doug’s digging with lots of wordplay with the dog’s name and the words “dig” and “dug.” At first Doug’s tunnels in his backyard are fairly realistic, but soon his frantic digging moves into more fantastical feats, as he has a burrowing contest with a squirrel, excavates a tunnel into an old gold mine, and bores his way to the White House lawn. Following a tour, Doug burrows back down through the floor of the Oval Office, surprising the president, a woman of color. His excavation efforts take him around the world, meeting people of different ethnicities and skin tones, with one spread appearing to be upside down as Doug digs all the way to China. Bold illustrations in acrylic and oil paints incorporate some of the text into the art, with individual letters or words serving as some of the underground tunnels. A concluding spread shows Doug’s rather nightmarish dream about digging his way into another planet, where some strange, otherworldly creatures greet him. While Doug’s adventures are spirited and amusing, the frenetic energy is a bit strained, and the repeated refrain of “oh boy, did Doug DIG!” wears thin by the time Doug tunnels his way into his owners’ bed for his dream sequence.

The combination of a perky, naughty dog and lots of dirt and mud will appeal to kids who like a story of an adventurous pooch . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4931-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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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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