A sweet and funny animal story for newly independent readers.



A guinea pig becomes a doctor’s helper in this picture book.

In this tale from the team of Benishek and Cline (What’s at the End of Your Nose?, 2017), a fluffy, brown guinea pig called George lives with the family of a physician with the same first name. Dr. George still makes house calls. Because his patients phone him at home, the guinea pig believes the calls are actually for him and that he’s the real doctor. Dr. George, who is forgetful, always misplaces his medical bag, which his family finds and puts on the floor near the coat tree. The guinea pig crawls in the bag to travel with the physician for his house calls. But when the animal falls out of the bag, he’s not sure what to do. With bandages stuck to his fur, he travels to the nearest house—one of the stops on the doctor’s list—and the guinea pig, through the encouragement of the patient he helps, becomes the physician’s official assistant. Although the animal experiences a moment of fear when he tumbles out of the bag, his peril is never too great, and sensitive young readers should enjoy his slightly smarter-than-a-real-guinea-pig behavior as well as the doctor’s confusion at his sudden appearance. Cline’s illustrations in colored pencil skillfully blend realism with whimsy for the guinea pig—the only character shown—and are so vivid that children will feel they can reach out and pet him. Benishek’s charming, text-dense story offers only a few challenging vocabulary words (for example, “ointments”).

A sweet and funny animal story for newly independent readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5428-1852-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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