Sam wants a dog, but his parents insist he is not yet responsible enough to have one. Sam tries very hard to show his parents how good he can be by cleaning his room, eating his vegetables, and hanging up his hat. Finally, on Sam’s ninth birthday his wish is granted. He is given a soft, black puppy he names Dodger. Dodger proves to be a handful of rambunctious energy. He knocks over the garbage and chews up Sam’s baseball cap, making Sam “. . . so mad he almost cried.” Even when Dodger gets relegated to the backyard, he creates mischief by following Sam to school and knocking over the hamster cage. When Dodger upsets Sam’s Little League game by running off with the bat, it becomes clear that something must be done. Faced with giving Dodger away, Sam gets motivated. He rises early in the morning and begins a daily practice of training Dodger. Their hard work pays off, for at the next Little League game, Dodger proves himself more fun than trouble. Supported by full-bleed oil paintings in lush, enveloping colors, Gustavson’s (Where the Big Fish Are, 2001, etc.) talent lends warmth and depth to this work. Dodger is painted with the please-love-me quality of an irresistible shaggy dog. With text enough to keep an early reader busy, this is a perfect cautionary tale for a youngster about to get a first dog. Abercrombie (Michael and the Cats, not reviewed, etc.) illustrates without pedantry that a well-trained dog makes life happier and more harmonious for humans and canine alike. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83782-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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