Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one.

BAD BOY, GOOD BOY

The tale of a young pup whose good deeds only appear naughty falls flat due to the repeated use of judgmental phrases in speech bubbles.

In four brief chapters, young readers meet Sam, an exuberant, somewhat impulsive pup whose heart is in the right place. While he does run amok through the grown-ups’ activities (“Bad boy!”) on the way to finding a friend’s lost hat (“Good boy!”), he is very careful not to make the same mistakes upon his return, though the adults don’t notice. When banned-from-cooking Sam helps blind-without-his-glasses Grandpa with his midnight snack, the large cartoon panels show Mama’s progression from anger to understanding. Some quite accidental mishaps at school provoke his teacher to call him a “Bad boy!” and send him to the corner, where he purposefully starts trouble and, confusingly, is dubbed a creative “Good boy!” In the final chapter, Sam slips out unseen during a storm; his frantic relatives find him sheltering a fallen baby bird. Watercolor, gouache and pen illustrations show anthropomorphized dogs whose expressions speak volumes, especially the angry and fearful ones. Unlike Chorao’s Kate (Up and Down with Kate, 2001), Sam doesn’t face everyday situations, so readers may find it difficult to relate…unless they often hear the titular phrases. What is most worrisome is that even when the grown-ups seem to recognize that Sam is trying his best to do the right thing, they don’t see that he learns from his mistakes and is a good boy indeed.

Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0520-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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