A reassuring tale that celebrates the uniqueness of each dog (or person) and the creation of a purposeful life. Three cheers...

ANTOINETTE

From the Gaston and Friends series

The beloved puppies of Gaston (2014) are back, this time with Antoinette’s story of self-discovery as she reveals that every dog has a gift to share.

Mrs. Bulldog knows each of her pups is special. It’s easy to see the talents of Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno. But Antoinette? Well, Mrs. Bulldog reassures her daughter there’s something exceptional about her. Unsure, Antoinette plays with her siblings and the Poodle family until one day a pooch goes missing! When her brothers can’t find the errant dog, Antoinette determinedly takes up the cause and ultimately saves the day. Once again, DiPucchio and Robinson don’t miss a comedic beat, creating a playful and funny tale full of warmth that deftly explores complex themes of belonging, self-worth, and purpose. Robinson’s seemingly simple artwork belies his masterful ability to imbue his characters and the places they live with an authenticity and humanity that move readers beyond the surface of the page. Done in a warm palette, the sophisticated acrylic paintings create a sense of depth through scale and repetition. Spot illustrations in the rescue scene act like slow-motion film frames to great effect, and readers will adore the motley paw patrol running before the Louvre and its iconic glass pyramid.

A reassuring tale that celebrates the uniqueness of each dog (or person) and the creation of a purposeful life. Three cheers for the winning Antoinette, who “could not—would not—give up!” (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5783-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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