Overall, a reassuring introduction to a potentially scary subject, and just the thing for a family that needs “something on...

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BARNABY THE BEDBUG DETECTIVE

Barnaby is a rescue dog who is adopted and trained as a bedbug-searching detection dog in this informative story on a current, widespread woe.

At the animal shelter, the appealing terrier is passed over for adoption by several families due to his rambunctious personality, but a pleasant woman named Martha selects Barnaby as her companion and potential detection dog. She sends Barnaby to a professional school for bedbug dog detectives, where he is trained, along with Martha as his handler, in how to sniff out the unwelcome pests. After graduation, they take on freelance jobs searching for bedbugs in a movie theater, a hotel and other locations. In their next job, they assist a family with three children in their home, where Barnaby finds bedbugs in the daughter’s bedroom. Information about bedbugs and how they are located and removed is skillfully woven into the text, which is narrated by Barnaby. Additional facts about bedbugs are included in the endpapers and backmatter, though a depiction of the actual size of bedbugs is lacking. Cheery illustrations painted in acrylics help to create believable, engaging characters and a positive atmosphere.     

Overall, a reassuring introduction to a potentially scary subject, and just the thing for a family that needs “something on bedbugs.” (afterword, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0904-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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