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

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QUEEN 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. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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