Fluffy and shallow but sweet, with an exuberant effect, from the sparking glitter on the cover to the cast party with...

PRETTY MINNIE IN HOLLYWOOD

A white French girl named Françoise takes her tiny dog along when she accompanies her fashion-designer mother to Hollywood to work on a movie in this second series outing (Pretty Minnie in Paris, 2014).

Minnie is a pampered teacup Chihuahua who enjoys an opulent lifestyle with Françoise and her mother in their Paris apartment that has a view of the Eiffel Tower. They pack matching outfits for their trip, fly together on the plane (with the dog in her own seat), and enjoy first-class accommodations and sightseeing in Hollywood. Françoise and Minnie visit the movie set, where they meet a snarly pink poodle with a starring role in the film. The poodle acts up and is conveniently fired, so Minnie gets her part in the movie. The slight plot by bestselling author Steel is told in polished but predictable prose, with a perky, sparkly tone matched by the jewel-toned, oversized illustrations. Valiant’s detailed illustrations give Minnie an engaging personality that’s hard to resist, and young readers will enjoy Minnie’s tiny costumes and fancy accessories. The hotel staff and cast and crew of the movie include people of different ethnicities, including the film’s African-American director.

Fluffy and shallow but sweet, with an exuberant effect, from the sparking glitter on the cover to the cast party with “Pupcake Cupcakes” at the end. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53755-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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