This well-meaning, amusing story is too much premise and not enough execution.

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STERLING, BEST DOG EVER

Is Sterling a dog…or a fork? Or a whisk? Or a lamp?

Sterling just wants to find a home and his forever family. When he sneaks into the Butlery Cutlery Company truck and gets delivered along with a bunch of forks to the Gilbert family, they decide to keep him. Sterling is determined to be the best fork ever! But when he notices that this middle-class mixed-race family can eat a whole meal “with just their fingers,” he worries they don’t need forks. The young, dog-loving girl of the house tries her best to help him be his doggy self, but Sterling cannot lose the idea he must be something else. Colorful, vibrant, and amusing illustrations carry the story, depicting a happy, loving family, with expressive faces on the humans as well as on the small dachshund Sterling. The dark-haired, brown-skinned mother is shown occasionally wearing a salwar kameez, pointing to South Asian heritage. Authentic touches, such as the light-haired, light-skinned father’s rumpled clothes and multiple pictures of dogs above the young girl’s bed, make the family and house feel friendly and comfortable. This silly story has an important lesson about just being yourself, but it gets hung up in Sterling’s shenanigans—the idea of a dog trying to be a fork is just too absurd to move beyond.

This well-meaning, amusing story is too much premise and not enough execution. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30614-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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