A memorable effort that will comfort anyone who has lost a beloved dog.

LOVE FROM ALFIE MCPOONST, THE BEST DOG EVER

In this British import, a dog writes letters from heaven to a child back on Earth, easing the grieving process.

Alfie McPoonst, a dog of indeterminate breed, has recently moved on to being a “Sky Dog” in Dog Heaven, residing on the “nicest cloud” in the sky. He writes to Izzy, his owner, a diminutive, round-headed moppet. Izzy is bereft, carrying Alfie’s blanket and bone toy everywhere. In subsequent letters, Alfie describes how much fun he has in Dog Heaven, playing with other dogs, chasing “postmen,” and scaring wolves. He is allowed to engage in formerly forbidden activities such as eating cow pies and rolling in flower beds. He writes, “I watch you through a star peephole every day” and that he left a ball of dog fluff behind the sofa. That revelation inspires a touching letter from Izzy to Alfie, telling him, “I keep [my fluff] in a special heart locket, so I’ll never forget you, even when I’m 100.” Impressionistic illustrations in a limited, mostly rusty-brown palette show Alfie enjoying his new environment and Izzy’s parents cuddling and comforting their child. Illustrations on the endpapers show the family, who present white, visiting Alfie’s grave in the garden behind their house. While Izzy is obviously just a tiny tot, both the understated story and imaginative illustrations allow readers to accept the child’s ability to understand Alfie’s letters and to write back.

A memorable effort that will comfort anyone who has lost a beloved dog. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-027-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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