DOG DIARIES

SECRET WRITINGS OF THE WOOF SOCIETY

Newbery Medalist Byars and her two daughters join forces for their third collaborative effort using a short-story format. An introductory chapter sets the stage for the first annual meeting of the WOOF Society, a group of literate dogs compiling “Words of Our Friends.” Eleven short narratives follow, told in first person by a variety of dogs from different eras and locations, from ancient times to the modern world. The historical settings include ancient Egypt, Pompeii during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the Gold Rush–era and the Civil War. Some of the stories are touching while others are humorous, including one from a dog who foils a bank robber and another about a dog who learns to “sing” at the Grand Ole Opry with Johnny Cash. The writing styles of the three authors and the length of stories vary widely, although this is in line with the supposed diversity of canine authors. Engaging illustrations in soft gray pencil endow each dog with additional personality, from Abu the hound in Egypt to Mimi the poodle in Paris. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7957-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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