Playful design contributes to the success of this warmhearted book.

GREAT DOG

A playful story about familial pride and unconditional love.

An anthropomorphic dog in a tweed sports coat tells his child, who wears a sweater and a cap, about family members as they look at a family portrait gallery. Each spread with a portrait has the father recounting a great accomplishment on a turquoise-backgrounded verso. Then the recto opens as a gatefold to reveal a picture of the relative that humorously undermines that account. For example, a uniformed bulldog was “the pride of the police,” but the underlying gatefold illustration reveals the police dog to be oblivious to three black-clad robber dogs absconding with their loot behind him. The child, presumably unaware of those contradictory backstories, interjects to ask, “What about me?” The father responds with the titular phrase: “You will be a GREAT dog!” In the final exchange, however, the father amends his statement in a concluding gatefold that finds the cap falling off to reveal cat ears. “You will be a great dog, a magnificent dog… / Or a great CAT. It’s up to you!” The message of unconditional love reveals the father as a great dad, but readers may wonder why the child was concealing their feline self until this moment. The illustrations feature a strong sense of line and pattern, with hints of turquoise, gold, and brown popping against white backgrounds.

Playful design contributes to the success of this warmhearted book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91917-0

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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