A charming, amusing, and sweet canine tale about difference and friendship.

BACKWARDS DOG

A dog who marches to his own drummer tries conforming in this debut picture book.

All the dogs of Harmony Street act in a normal and proper way except for one: Charley. In defiance of canine custom, Charley sticks his rear out the car window rather than his head; he runs in triangles, not circles; and instead of playing catch in the park, he heads home to nap—“with CATS!” Charley’s friends wonder why he can’t act like the rest of them. But Charley just replies, “You say forwards, I say backwards. It’s not right or wrong, wrong nor right. We are just different, you see. And I’m just happy being me.” But Charley’s friends walk away (CATS!), and he decides that maybe he should try acting like other dogs. When he does, though, things work out badly. But finally, his friends return: “As long as you’re happy, what else is there?” To prove it, they all walk Charley home—backward. Rogers’ book effectively reads as a metaphor for autism or any condition that sets kids apart from the majority. Charley has good reasons for doing things the way he does, and the author wisely doesn’t demand that he ultimately conform or reveal some acceptance-earning supertalent. The slightly exaggerated realism of the illustrations by Boyd (Calling the Water Drum, 2016, etc.) does a superb job of showing the dogs’ personalities while adding much liveliness and humor.

A charming, amusing, and sweet canine tale about difference and friendship.

Pub Date: April 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-942586-24-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Little Creek Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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