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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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