Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to...

I LOVE DOGS!

A little boy travels around a bustling, big-city park observing dogs of many varieties before finally acquiring a dog of his own.

The title page introduces the boy who narrates the story, showing him gazing up at a red sign that orders, “Adopt a dog today!” As the boy wanders through the huge park, he follows multiple identical signs that point the way to a canine adoption center. The short, humorous text describes a diverse canine population through descriptive rhyming pairs, such as “nosy dogs, / cozy dogs” and “naughty dogs, / haughty dogs.” Stylized, computer-generated illustrations capture the antics of the happily romping canines and the eccentricities of their various owners. The main character is sometimes cleverly concealed within the illustrations of the busy park scenes, but he can always be spotted by his tuft of red hair and striped shirt. The illustrations carefully match the descriptions of the dogs, whether spotty, dotty, wrinkly or crinkly, and the bold, jazzy style perks up a story that isn’t particularly original. As always, Staake depicts skin tones of just about every color, including blue, lavender and green; the protagonist has very light brown skin.

Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to read on their own. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-117057-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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