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

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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Hee haw.

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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 dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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