A bittersweet, vividly rendered animal story.

PIGGY AND PUG

An abandoned dog finds a new family and friendship in this picture book.

Pug is a small canine who lives happily with a human family in a small house. Piggy, a petite speckled pig, lives on a farm, loves to play with the boy who takes care of her, and is sad when he’s at school. One day, Pug’s family suddenly moves, leaving him behind; meanwhile, Piggy tries to make new friends on the farm. However, butterflies and turtles flee from Pug, and the pig has no luck talking with cows and chickens. After a fox chases Pug to the farm, the dog and pig find each other. The farm family realizes that Pug’s former owners left him behind because they couldn’t afford him, so they decide to keep him. This quirky tale of friendship has a happy ending, and readers are sure to take its lessons to heart. The book seems like it might have been intended to have full-page illustrations; instead, it presents four small ones on every two-page spread. Still, debut author Wheaton’s accessible text is surrounded by white space, which will make it accessible for newly independent readers; the easy-to-follow plot will keep them engaged. Debut illustrator Jacob’s brightly colored images feature lovable animal characters and Caucasian humans in a Disney-like style.

A bittersweet, vividly rendered animal story.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9741160-9-9

Page Count: 31

Publisher: Monolith Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

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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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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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