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This offers lots of commercial appeal with a clever text, polished illustrations, a princess in pink, and a cuddly-cute dog,...

A coddled French bulldog rules her household like a queen until a baby arrives in the family.

An extended textual metaphor of a pampered pooch as a royal character is the premise of this cleverly constructed but predictable story. The dog is treated like a princess as a puppy and receives the name Queen Dog along with a crown and a ruffled Elizabethan collar. The text describes the dog’s behavior as events in a royal household, while the illustrations show corresponding scenes in modern settings. For example, leading “her people on quests for great treasure” shows the dog chasing a garbage truck, and organizing “royal hunts” depicts Queen Dog chasing a squirrel. The dog’s white owners are her servants, until a small “visitor” (also white) arrives, and Queen Dog’s world changes. At first the dog is jealous of the new addition to the household, but eventually Queen Dog becomes protective of the new “princess-in-training,” as well as her loyal friend. The story keys in to the popular princess theme with the baby’s name: Princess Catherine (as in the Duchess of Cambridge). Cheery illustrations in a pastel palette have a greeting-card prettiness tailored for younger preschool-age children. However, the nuances of the dog-as-queen metaphor require an understanding of historical royal life beyond the background knowledge of the intended audience, and the capacity to follow the intended disparity between text and illustrations is a sophisticated one.

This offers lots of commercial appeal with a clever text, polished illustrations, a princess in pink, and a cuddly-cute dog, but the overall effort is forgettable. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2852-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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