Playful design contributes to the success of this warmhearted book.

READ REVIEW

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

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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