Percy doesn’t seem to have much of a destiny beyond chasing his favorite ball, but perhaps that is the point.


A black-and-white dog plays with his canine pals at a dog park, culminating in an encounter with a feisty, ball-stealing squirrel.

Percy is a bright-eyed dog of indeterminate breed, with a long, skinny tail and a black spot over one eye. He narrates the story with just a few words and a snappy attitude, using witty expressions such as “my little porkie pie” as a nickname for his beloved, special ball. (The genially archaic, repeated “What ho!” may raise more than a few eyebrows, given its unfortunate homonymic relationship to the modern slur.) Percy meets up with his three canine friends at the dog park, each having brought along a favorite toy. Molly is a standard poodle who carries a bandanna, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is a dachshund with a Frisbee, and Fluffy is a huge, fierce-looking but gentle fellow toting a correspondingly huge bone. At the park, the dogs play together until a sassy squirrel faces off with Percy, trying to steal his ball. When the squirrel swipes Percy’s ball and then flings it from a tree, Fluffy solves the problem by leaping up to catch it. Minimalist, digitally produced illustrations use white backgrounds and a muted color palette to complement the sophisticated tone of the text. Percy’s long, pointed tail (presumably in perpetual motion) is frequently depicted as three distinct appendages; since there are no motion lines to help readers decode this, it appears that the dog is a tri-tailed anomaly.

Percy doesn’t seem to have much of a destiny beyond chasing his favorite ball, but perhaps that is the point. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59078-984-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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. 29, 2018

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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