An exuberant dog’s-eye view of friendship and forgiveness.

BEST DAY EVER!

An energetic puppy narrates a day with her boy.

In the morning, she licks the face of her “best friend,” a boy with light brown skin who uses a manual wheelchair, “glad that [they’re] a pair.” In quick, rhythmic rhymes, she bounds along—chasing a cat, stealing a Frisbee, snatching a hot dog from disgruntled pigeons, and scaring a snake—to the titular refrain: “Best day ever!” But the tune changes when she rolls on a “nice dead fish.” “Down, girl! You get off me! / Phewy, what’s that smell?” yells her boy as she gazes up with heart-meltingly mournful eyes. “Not the best day ever,” she laments as she endures a sudsy bath. And when she accidentally knocks over a lamp, her boy’s exasperation is finally too much: “Worst day ever.” Soon, however, the boy comforts the dejected pup, apologizing for shouting: “I know it wasn’t cool. / I think we need more lessons. / We’ll go to training school.” The friendship restored, a huge, jubilant “Best day ever!” arcs across a sunset-tinged double-page spread, the exclamation point finished off with a tennis ball the narrator has leapt to catch. Illustrator Nixon, herself a wheelchair user, captures the bond between boy and dog with bold lines, bright, sun-laced colors, and endearing expressions, tenderly demonstrating that love is unconditional—a message that will reassure readers as well as their furry friends. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.3% of actual size.)

An exuberant dog’s-eye view of friendship and forgiveness. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-98783-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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