Readers may finish this book and move straight to Brooklyn.

BROOKLYN BAILEY, THE MISSING DOG

This picture book could serve as a tourist’s guide to Brooklyn.

Yotam has the sort of neighbors anyone might wish for: Debbie, who walks her turtle and pit bull at the same time; the man with a big bushy beard; the man with 10 cats. (The neighborhood is multicultural, but Yotam’s family is white.) All the neighbors try to help out when Yotam’s dog runs away after being startled. He had tied Bailey’s leash to a metal chair, which is pretty much the definition of “accident waiting to happen,” and no pet owner will have trouble believing the book was inspired by a true story. The creators—especially VanderPloeg—get every detail right: There’s the woman with the “BUSY LADY” tote bag. There’s Yotam’s anxious fantasy that Bailey is at the Prospect Park Zoo, sleeping on a branch like a monkey. The off-kilter perspective in the illustrations is enchanting but difficult to describe; if Grandma Moses and Maira Kalman could have a baby, that baby would paint this book. The tone of the story moves flawlessly from genuinely hilarious (the scene where Bailey runs with a metal chair even incorporates sound effects) to bittersweet and mysterious: Bailey returns, but she’s slightly injured, and the last line is: “He would never know where she had gone those missing nights, but he knew where she would be sleeping tonight.” Whew.

Readers may finish this book and move straight to Brooklyn. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55273-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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