SWIM BARK RUN

Three canine friends encourage one another to complete a dog-oriented triathlon.

Daisy, a little bulldog, enjoys watching her owners compete in triathlons in which they swim, ride bikes, and then run. After one such race, Daisy, eager to be in one herself, decides to create a triathlon for her doggy friends and invites dachshund Rascal, Dalmatian Hobie, and corgi Atticus to participate. Following the human version, the dogs will swim across a pond, skateboard on the sidewalk around the pond, and finally run on the wooded trail through their favorite park to the finish line. When the race’s course becomes increasingly difficult, they cheer one another on to give it their all. Daisy approaches her final big hill and almost gives in to her fatigue, climbing slowly until she is greeted by Brian, one of her owners (depicted as a white man), standing at the top, which gives her confidence to finish. With announcer Rascal’s enthusiastic affirmation—“Swim, bark, run! Did everyone have fun?”—Daisy realizes that the enjoyment of a triathlon is about setting and accomplishing goals at one’s pace. The writing is pedestrian at best, and the illustrations don’t always work with the text (one dog character is introduced visually pages before the text mentions her, for instance). Still, the affable, animation-style cartoons in verdant spring colors brighten the overall message of dogged perseverance with the aid of friendship and teamwork.

Preachy but cheerful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2696-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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