More fun with a lovable, literate canine; sure to inspire budding animal rescue advocates.


Arfy—a big-eyed dog with a heart to match—uses his letter-writing skills to find a home for a stray kitten.

This sequel to the New York Times bestseller Can I Be Your Dog? (2018) begins with an entry from Arfy’s diary in his easily readable handwriting. Arfy explains how his usual Tuesday pursuits—digging up a stick and barking at a bird—were interrupted by a new smell. He followed his nose and found an adorable, piteous kitten whom he named Scamper. Arfy reveals that he cannot keep the homeless feline because “my person is allergic to cats.” So, he tests out various owners for Scamper—a music teacher, a set of triplet babies, an auto mechanic, a glamorous movie agent, and a tchotchke-collecting cat fancier. He writes letters to each candidate explaining why Scamper would be a good fit for them. But each time, the arrangement doesn’t work and the prospective adopters send Scamper back along with apologetic letters explaining why various aspects of the kitten’s behavior don’t pass muster. Just when all hope seems lost, Scamper chalks a message on the pavement that helps Arfy find his new friend a perfect home, one where he can be himself. The letters and diary entries appear as facsimiles accompanied by amusing, colorful cartoony art. Much of the humor stems from the fact that the animals’ earnest and formal correspondence is full of fun wordplay. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More fun with a lovable, literate canine; sure to inspire budding animal rescue advocates. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38007-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dragonfly Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...


It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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