This funny story offers a fresh approach to accepting each individual’s unique personality.

MY STINKY DOG

In this French import, a little boy narrates a story about his dog, Alfred, who has a great personality but a significant odor issue.

Faithful companion Alfred is always there to cheer up his owner. The huge dog has short, brown fur, an oval body, and an unusual, white nose reminiscent of a cheese grater. Alfred hasn’t had a bath in some time, if ever, and he smells so bad that he attracts flies. The little boy effects change by scrubbing Alfred clean, but then the dog evinces a personality change, tiptoeing around in a raincoat and boots so he doesn’t get dirty again. The boy gets down in the mud with Alfred to reinstate the dog’s distinctive stench, and order is restored as boy and dog float off on a cloud of odiferous fumes, heading for a new home together. Delightfully imaginative illustrations in a loose, cartoon style use white backgrounds and vibrant swirls of color to indicate Alfred’s odors. One hilarious double-page spread shows Alfred in profile as a sort of scent map, with each stinky area identified and each smell indicated by a symbolic key. The unnamed narrator has brown hair, pink cheeks, and white skin. (His face is a line drawing using the white space of the backgrounds.)

This funny story offers a fresh approach to accepting each individual’s unique personality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2823-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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