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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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