Memorable and moving.

READ REVIEW

THIS WAY, CHARLIE

A standoffish goat forms a unique bond with a partially blind horse.

Jack, a solitary goat, lives at Open Bud Ranch, where “all kinds” of animals come for space to “heal, rest, and grow.” Jack, who likes “keeping his space to himself,” is initially irritated when a horse named Charlie arrives, accidentally invading that space. Gradually, Jack realizes Charlie’s blind in one eye. He watches Charlie greet everyone, sniff honeysuckles, and follow sunlit patches—but also bump into things and seem lost, scared, even lonely. One day, Jack beckons him: “This way, Charlie,” guiding Charlie to his favorite grazing field. Soon Jack leads Charlie everywhere, and they become friends. After Charlie loses sight in his other eye, Jack simply moves closer to lead Charlie on their walks. Despite Charlie’s urging, injuries from Jack’s abused past prevent him from engaging other animals until Charlie’s in danger and Jack must ask others for help. Inspired by a real-life relationship between a horse and a goat at an Oklahoma wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, this gentle story’s positive messages about patience, kindness, and friendship are reinforced in soft illustrations that resemble impressionistic watercolors. Touching scenes of isolationist Jack watching Charlie from a distance gradually give way to upbeat scenes of Jack actively leading Charlie into a mutually healing friendship.

Memorable and moving. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4206-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.

PIG THE TOURIST

From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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