Hest and Bates’ previous joint dog project, The Dog Who Belonged to No One (2008), was a more tender and effective narrative.

READ REVIEW

MY OLD PAL, OSCAR

Alone at the beach, a black-and-white puppy huddles under the pier until it spots a child.

The blond, white child plays alone with the puppy nearby, feigning indifference even while cataloging the puppy’s lack of tags, big feet, “soft puppy beard,” and “big black eyes.” The persistent, perky pup doesn’t accept the child’s emphatic goodbye and gets an earful about the late, beloved Oscar. “You want to be pals. / Well, we can’t be pals. No sir. No way. / Won’t. Ever. Do. That. Again. Ever. / You know who was my pal? Oscar.” Bates’ striking watercolor-and-pencil illustrations let an autumnal spectrum of muted oranges, yellows, and grays flow across the pages. The spray of the waves, the far-off cries of the gulls, and the salted breeze of the sea are expertly evoked in these frames. But the deficit of honest emotion in Hest’s scenes between puppy and child serves to rebuff rather than involve readers. Even the child’s pervading melancholy is communicated in a sterile, forced manner. “The waves were really, really big, and I was really, really sad.” No one will be surprised that the child eventually takes the puppy in, though readers who might have lost dogs themselves will be taken aback that there is no evidence of a search for this puppy’s owner.

Hest and Bates’ previous joint dog project, The Dog Who Belonged to No One (2008), was a more tender and effective narrative. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1901-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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