A solid entry in an entertaining series foreshadowing more adventures for the trio of Barkus, Baby, and Millie on the horizon

BARKUS DOG DREAMS

From the Barkus series , Vol. 2

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan continues her series of early chapter books with this second offering about Barkus the dog, his feline companion named Baby, and the child who owns them, Nicky.

The story unfolds in five short chapters narrated by Nicky, with bold, bright illustrations on every page and some pages printed on colored backgrounds. The episodic chapters include a visit to the vet, attending a town party, and rescuing some lost farm animals. Barkus makes friends with a neighbor’s dog, Millie, when they trade toys back and forth, and in the concluding chapter, Millie and her owner stay with Nicky’s family during a storm and power outage. Each chapter has some sort of reassuring development for Barkus, showing that he will be cared for and protected and appreciated. The plot also subtly reinforces the importance of helping others, with the rescue of the runaway farm animals, with Barkus rescuing a struggling singer with a convenient howl, and with Nicky's family kindly opening their home to Millie and her owner during the storm. The illustrations are varied in format and size, with amusing, buggy-eyed humans and animals, and each chapter has humor and surprising developments to keep young readers turning pages. The main characters present white, with supporting characters of different ethnicities, including a female vet with brown skin and black hair.

A solid entry in an entertaining series foreshadowing more adventures for the trio of Barkus, Baby, and Millie on the horizon . (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1676-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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