A perfect read aloud that will leave them begging for more—an absolute delight.

GASTON

From the Gaston and Friends series

Gaston, an adorable pup, lives with his loving and proper poodle pack, until an outing reveals there’s more to family than meets the eye.

Mrs. Poodle treasures her new puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La and Gaston (say them aloud, and there will be giggles!). Four white pups, so attentive and sweet. But upon second viewing, it’s clear not all are the same. Gaston—the one with the eager-to-please smile—is, well, different. His sisters are naturals at etiquette, while he is comical in his efforts. When a park visit establishes that puppies were mixed at birth, Gaston heads home with the bulldogs, while his counterpart, Antoinette, takes her place with the poodles. But it’s clear the two truly belong with their adoptive families. Once returned to the families who nurtured them, all feels and looks right as the dogs celebrate with joy. Now fast friends, the families meet and play; much later, when Gaston and Antoinette fall in love, the two allow their brood—who are a delightful mix of their parents—to be whatever they want to be. Robinson’s brilliantly designed acrylic paintings, done in an earth-tone palette, beautifully enhance DiPucchio’s clever and witty text. His simple, graphic style, reminiscent of M. Sasek, is full of energy and sophistication, and the interplay among type, text and compositions leads to humorous results. Gaston will win hearts, as will his story’s message of belonging and family.

A perfect read aloud that will leave them begging for more—an absolute delight. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5102-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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