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Veterinarian Tiner’s debut is a middle grade reader told from the dog’s point of view.

The book opens as Jake, a large, black mixed-breed dog, leaves his mother to move in with his new owner. Jake is horrified to discover that his new master is an abusive man. He escapes to fend for himself on the city streets. But Jake has dreamed of finding a kind owner with a beautiful yard since he was a puppy, and he isn’t prepared to give up hope. As he searches far and wide, Jake befriends a homeless woman, fellow stray dogs Bo and Rico, and a feral cat and her litter of kittens. Though the violence that Jake suffers will be upsetting to young readers, Tiner avoids graphic descriptions; she writes, “Every day Joe would come out with the stick and beat Jake ruthlessly, and each time Jake just felt fear and confusion grip his heart.” The story moves along in episodic fashion as Jake and his friends struggle to survive in the city. In the spirit of such books as Black Beauty and Charlotte's Web, the animals can speak to one another; Chihuahua Rico’s stilted dialog may have been meant to evoke accented English, but instead comes across as awkward, tripping up the reader's flow. Occasional bouts of clunky phrasing also slow the pace of the story. Finally, the author’s failure to wrap up a few loose ends as the books draws to a close may leave readers wondering about the fate of Jake’s friends.  Young readers who like animal stories will appreciate this warm canine tale. 

 

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1468082562

Page Count: 164

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2012

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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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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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