A charming person-as-pet story that will leave dog lovers chuckling.

I'M MY OWN DOG

An independent dog teaches his human a few tricks in this amusing role reversal.

Told from the dog’s self-assured point of view, the story makes it clear this canine bows to no one. He likes his life of fetching slippers (his own), playing catch by himself and licking the reflection in the mirror. But when his back has an itch that can’t be reached and he lets a human scratch it, life changes. The human follows him home, and what can the pooch do but adopt him? Despite the hard work of training and cleaning up after a human, the canine secretly admits it’s all worth it, as the two become best friends. Appealing pen, ink and watercolor illustrations, done in a primary pastel palette, convey the dog’s sassy, ultimately warm personality. The artist’s use of marker is reminiscent of a Chinese brush painting—where each stroke skillfully conveys an energy or intention about the character or setting. Fresh and lively, Stein infuses each spread with spontaneity.

A charming person-as-pet story that will leave dog lovers chuckling. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6139-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween.

TEENY TINY GHOST

This board book twists the traditional “Teeny Tiny” tale into a less-scary Halloween treat.

This version uses a singsong-y rhythm and cadence to tell the story. “In the teeny tiny barn / Of a teeny tiny house... / Lived a teeny tiny ghost / and a teeny tiny mouse.” Of course the ghost (being teeny tiny) is not very frightening. “But the determined little ghost / Let her mighty courage through / And with a teeny tiny breath / She said a teeny tiny: boo.” Spoiler alert: After just seven page turns the ghost and mouse become friends: “And now the teeny tinies play / In the teeny tiny house. / Just a teeny tiny ghost / And her best friend, mouse.” Pumpkins decorate the cover and final spread and illustrations throughout are in autumnal hues. The fairly high-for-the-format word count—19 to 21 words per page—may be more than toddlers will sit still for, but the “teeny tiny” repetition and rhymes will help. The size (just 6 inches square) makes using the book with a group a challenge, but with a lap-sitting child, it’ll be a pleasure.

A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31848-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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