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A BOY, HIS DOG, AND THE SEA

An illuminating and perceptive look at the quiet confidence in all of us.

A dreary day at the beach takes an unexpected turn.

On this cloudy, overcast day, Danny’s feeling out of sorts. His mother is preoccupied, and his older brother, Mick, is out of the house, hanging with his friends. At the behest of his mom, Danny reluctantly goes to the beach with his dog, Scruff. While Scruff excitedly fetches the stick Danny throws into the water, the boy observes a pile of rocks that resemble other objects: a face, a car, a dog’s head. Noticing a crowd of people looking at something in the watery distance, Danny realizes that someone is in distress and, after a bout of self-doubt, sends Scruff into the water to help. Eventually, Danny sees Scruff swimming back with Mick. Mick calls Danny a hero, and the little boy puffs up with pride. As the reunited brothers and their canine companion walk home, the clouds part to reveal a bright, clear blue sky. Browne’s textured watercolor illustrations capture the drab day with a palette of deep grays, greens, and purples. Much like Danny, readers will observe small details in the art that contribute to the overall tone of the story, such as the boarded-up houses near the beach that look like giant frowning faces. The brothers present white; background characters are diverse.

An illuminating and perceptive look at the quiet confidence in all of us. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9781536234138

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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