Serviceable—nothing more.

SPARKY THE FIRE DOG

A friendly Dalmatian assists firefighters and inspects homes for fire safety.

Posed in front of Fire Station No. 5 with a quartet of smiling firefighters of varying ethnicities and both genders, Sparky introduces himself and explains his busy job. He doesn't just straighten the hose and help to wash the fire truck, but he rides along whenever the fire alarm sounds. He used to be an ordinary dog that lived outside a schoolyard, but one day he smelled smoke, and his barking caused the firefighters to come and save his neighbor's house. Since then, he's been a fire dog. In a dream, he inspects homes. At Mrs. Sheep's house, he finds that the batteries in the smoke detector are low. Mr. Alligator has placed his space heaters too close to the curtains, and Mrs. Flamingo has left candles unattended. The elephant family needs an escape route, and Mrs. Tiger, who cooks a lot, needs a safety zone away from the stove. Mrs. Yak gets points for keeping her pot handles turned away from the edge of the stove, and the Fox family has wisely devised multiple ways out of every room. Sparky visits a dozen animal homes in all before an alarm wakes him up. The book is packed with undeniably important information, but the illustrations are generic, and the story, such as it is, is downright corny.

Serviceable—nothing more. (safety tips) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-936140-62-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Imagine Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are...

1-2-3 PEAS

After an alphabetical, rhyming tour de force (LMNO Peas, 2010), Baker’s energetic pea pack is back—this time, to count by ones and 10s.

Baker sidesteps the trickiness of rhyming the numerals by selecting a repeating word for each short verse. “ONE pea searching—look, look, look, / TWO peas fishing—hook, hook, hook.” Those numerals rise sky-high (to peas, at least) to dominate the digitally composed visuals, often serving as props for the frenzy of vegetative activity. At “TEN peas building—pound, pound, pound,” the peas erect a wooden platform around the numeral—mainly, it would seem, as an excuse for exuberantly hammering dozens of nails. Baker circumvents those oft-pesky ’teens in one deft double-page spread: “Eleven to nineteen—skip, skip, skip!” Then it’s a double-page spread per decade, with peas traveling, napping, watching fireworks and more. “SEVENTY peas singing” provide a bevy of details to spy: A fab foursome (the Peatles) rocks out above a chorus and director. Nearby, a barbershop quartet, a Wagnerian soloist, a showering pea and a dancing “Peayoncé” add to the fun. 

Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are sure to devour Baker’s latest winner. Totally ap-pea-ling! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4551-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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