Stunning, tender, and brilliant. Readers will laugh and cry—but most of all love.


A dog savors one last outing with his little girl, remembering puppyhood and simple pleasures before passing, while their love lives on, enriching and inspiring new adventures as they unfold.

Floppy-eared and graying, an old dog rises to still find wonder in the world—from the fireball sun and puffer clouds to the swirly wind and a good old stretch—but it’s his forever friend, Little, who makes him “wigglewag” with joy. As the brown-skinned child with her black mop of hair calls out “Letsgoboy!” memories of leaping and chasing squirrels surface. The dog gazes upon this remarkable world and “wuffwuffs” his farewells, and Little gives him her tightest “lovesqueeze.” Under a luminous sky, he closes his eyes, and twilight blue bursts into a dazzling kaleidoscope, and he can “runjump” again. He sees the family mourn and the seasons change, until one spring Little is on a “letsgoboy” with a new puppy. Happy to feel her joy, he joins her in spirit, knowing they are each other’s friends forever. Mixed-media illustrations masterfully play with scale, composition, and perspective; and Chien’s use of simple, exploratory shapes and patterns creates enchanting characters and landscapes full of energy, peace, and transformation. Told from the dog’s perspective, the playful and poignant text offers an arc beautifully visualized by Chien, whose palette choices flex with the narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Stunning, tender, and brilliant. Readers will laugh and cry—but most of all love. (Picture book. 3-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7716-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among


Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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