The stylish illustrations and sly wit on display here will please Gall’s fans and likely win him new ones.

DOG VS. CAT

Traditional adversaries are (eventually) united by a common enemy.

In the beginning, Dog and Cat are friends. Selected separately by Mr. and Mrs. Button, they make the best of being forced to share a room. Soon enough, though, differing interests, styles and behaviors lead them to sabotage each other in the hope of becoming an only pet. Full-page pictures, double-page spreads and smaller vignettes, all created with colored pencil and enhanced with a Wacom drawing tablet, reveal the extremely anthropomorphic lives of these entertaining animals. Brown, blocky Dog has a recliner, a bed, lots of sports equipment and plenty of snacks. Sleek black Cat, by contrast, has sharp suits, lots of books and what appears to be a chemistry set. Some details, like the finned car that carries Dog home and the black-and-white photos that cover the endpapers, have a retro vibe that suits the text’s deadpan humor. Dog and Cat, meanwhile, manage to convey emotions clearly with just the quirk of an eyebrow or a sideways glare. What drives these two sibling stand-ins to bury the hatchet won’t surprise many readers, but their solution suits the overall silliness to a T and will likely lead at least some listeners to long for their own special place.

The stylish illustrations and sly wit on display here will please Gall’s fans and likely win him new ones. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-23801-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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