IF DOGS RUN FREE

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

 

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 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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