Dylan is known as the poet laureate of rock music, but will his whimsical, metaphorical lyrics capture a child’s attention?...

IF DOGS RUN FREE

 

The lyrics to a 1970 Dylan song serve as the text for this quirky ode to children and dogs running free, doing their own thing. Through his appealing watercolor illustrations, Campbell has done a fine job creating a coherent, imaginative story from Dylan’s poetic lyrics. A little girl who serves as the narrator leaves the house with her younger brother and their dog for a day of adventure. They run off to an imaginary world with a huge park filled with dozens of dogs, skip across lily pads in a pond filled with animals playing instruments, and fly up into the sky, “blowin’ in the wind” via bouquets of balloons. Dylan’s sophisticated phrases might be difficult for literal-minded children, causing them to struggle with the meaning of a “tapestry of rhyme” or “the cosmic sea.” But taken as a whole, the slightly mystifying text and the bouncy, happy kids and dogs sliding through space and time meld together into a satisfying tale, with undeniably cute canines and children running free and enjoying life, on their own like rolling stones.

Dylan is known as the poet laureate of rock music, but will his whimsical, metaphorical lyrics capture a child’s attention? As another Dylan song recommends, “Don’t think twice, it’s all right.” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4879-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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