A doggy love note, but it’s no better than a bland alternative to Harry the Dirty Dog (1956) or such descendants as Lori...



From the Ruby and Grub series

Grub is such a muddy, mucky, messy dog! What to do?

Despite strenuous efforts, Ruby can’t stop Grub from digging in the garden, rolling in dirt, tracking paw prints all over the house, and splashing her in the bath. Finally he digs a hole under the fence, and that’s the last straw for Mom: off he goes to stay with Uncle Tom, who has three dogs already. Instantly the household just doesn’t feel right—not to Ruby, nor to her mom (“The garden’s too tidy”), dad (“The house is too clean”), or little brother Joe (“GUB!!!”). Unsurprisingly, the exile doesn’t last long. Grub, portrayed as a small, flop-eared bundle of relentless energy, often seems out of control but seldom looks grimy enough to create the messes he leaves in Warburton’s sketchy, informally drawn domestic scenes. Though the shared adoration between girl and dog lights up the whole episode, Ruby’s narrative tends toward wordiness: “When I shout, ‘Stop digging!’ he doesn’t stop digging. Do you know what he does? He keeps digging!” The abject surrender at the end (“Now the house is a mess, the garden is a mess, everywhere’s a mess. But it doesn’t matter…”) begs any sort of realistic resolution or coping strategy.

A doggy love note, but it’s no better than a bland alternative to Harry the Dirty Dog (1956) or such descendants as Lori Mortensen and Michael Allen Austin’s Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg (2013). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0085-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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