A positive message of hope and love.



From the Helper Hounds series

This therapy dog narrates her perspective on grief.

Curly Noodle the goldendoodle knows firsthand about loss, having lost two families already. She now lives on the campus of a local university, happily greeting others on her long walks. Noodle has been officially trained to be a “world-famous Helper Hound.” Her current case concerns a young boy named Gabriel, who won’t cry over his grandfather’s recent death. Gabriel’s family is supportive, and their unnamed but described Catholic faith teaches that “one day [they] will all be together again,” but Gabriel opens up only in Noodle’s comforting presence. He’s helped by other humans sharing stories of loss and a metaphor of Noodle’s left-behind curly hairs as traces of a loved one’s lingering love. Positivity and a surprise reunion supply a happy ending to this somber lesson. Noodle’s narration is compassionate and sincere, like her doggy personality, and appropriate for readers who may be going through similar life events. The text discourages dog breeding: “Rescued is the best breed!” Noodle’s owner says. Backmatter contains “Tips for Grieving” as well as some facts on goldendoodles. Gabriel’s bilingual family hails from Mexico, and illustrations depict the other primary characters as white. Noodle’s current owners are in a same-sex partnership. Companion title Robot Helps Max and Lily Deal With Bullies features a Rottweiler who provides support for a pair of bullied siblings.

A positive message of hope and love. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63440-918-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...


From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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