A thrilling and very worthwhile choice for emergent readers.


From the Dog's Day series

In the first of a new series about working dogs, Jax, a Great Pyrenees, describes his efforts to protect his flock of sheep through a long, scary night.

When the lead livestock guardian dog, Bev, is injured in a coyote attack, only Jax and a very youthful novice dog, Stormy, are left to protect their owner’s flock. After one of the ewes delivers a new lamb, things get even more complicated. Jax, brave and pragmatic, must try to keep a close eye on the defenseless pair while still making sure the flock is safe, never certain that he can rely on Stormy’s unproven judgment. Then a mountain lion begins to menace the sheep.…Jax’s matter-of-fact voice is both believable and highly informative, providing readers with a riveting step-by-step account of how livestock guardians are trained and how they do their work. Never lost in that enlightening presentation is the rising suspense generated by the large cat threatening the sheep—and the dogs. Rosa’s illustrations, a few for each short chapter, nicely enhance the text (and depict Jax’s human family as white). Considering that all of this is packaged in a slender volume intended for readers newly transitioned to chapter books, this is an outstanding effort, packed with interesting information but also too engrossing to put down. I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow, about a chocolate Lab who does avalanche rescue, publishes simultaneously.

A thrilling and very worthwhile choice for emergent readers. (Adventure. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1663-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...


Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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