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

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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A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale.

PUG'S SNOW DAY

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 2

Bub the anxious pug tackles snow days and new neighbors in his second outing.

Bub, acclaimed by some as “the cutest pug on the planet,” at first shares the enthusiasm owner Bella expresses about snow days even though he doesn’t know what they are. Then Duchess the cat (mildly antagonistic, in typical feline fashion) rains on Bub’s parade by pointing out that snow is water—and Bub’s no fan of rain or baths. After a comedic and disastrous first attempt, Bub learns how to properly dress for snow and enjoy it. The outdoor fun’s cut short by mysterious noises coming from the new neighbor, which frighten Bella into thinking there’s a monster. Bub puts on a Sherlock Holmes get-up to investigate but becomes afraid himself of the new neighbor’s large dog. Finally, Bella meets Jack, who’s been working on a tree fort, and his dog, Luna, who is enthusiastically friendly. The story ends on a positive note, as they all happily work together on the fort. The full-color cartoon illustrations, especially of Bub, are adorably expressive and certain to please the age group. The generous font and format—short, diary-entry paragraphs and speech-bubble conversations—create a quick pace. Bub’s stylized emoji bubbles return and are most hilarious when used to express his nervous flatulence. Bella and Jack both present white.

A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53006-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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