An exciting tale of boy-and-puppy bonding for Inuit children, this story is also accessible to non-Inuit readers willing to...


This Canadian import recounts a winter afternoon of an Inuit boy named Jake and his sled dog puppy, Kamik.

A companion to Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story, by Donald Uluadluak and illustrated by Leng (2013), this story is based on the recollections of Sulurayok, an Inuit elder from Nunavut. In the book, Jake and his puppy are staying with his grandmother in her house. She encourages Jake in his training of Kamik and sends the pair out onto the snowy tundra to practice with a simple sealskin sled. The fairly lengthy story describes their training session and their trip back home during a sudden blizzard. Soft-focus watercolor-and-pencil illustrations capture the antics of the dog and his young master as well as the drama of the ride through the swirling blizzard. The story places readers directly into the setting and the plot, with no concessions to non-Inuit audiences, such as a map, glossary, or pronunciation guide. A few words are not defined by context, such as bannock (a type of bread) and Inuktitut (an Inuit language), and other words are difficult for non-native speakers to pronounce without guidance, such as the grandmother’s name, Anaanatsiaq, and Tuhaaji, the dog’s Inuktitut name.

An exciting tale of boy-and-puppy bonding for Inuit children, this story is also accessible to non-Inuit readers willing to meet Kamik and Jake out on the tundra. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-7722-7020-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Hee haw.

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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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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