This fast-paced mystery is a fun addition to this series for new readers.

KING & KAYLA AND THE CASE OF FOUND FRED

From the King & Kayla series

Smart dog King and his human, Kayla, help a lost dog find his people.

King and Kayla work together to solve mysteries, with King narrating their tales in his distinctive voice. The two are on vacation at Grandma’s house near a lake, and King discovers a new friend in the bushes. King soon learns that Fred lost his humans during the firecrackers “five or one nights ago.” His collar is lost, but Kayla guesses from his behavior that he is not a stray. Since Kayla can’t understand “a word Fred says,” King is the one to collect clues. He learns that Fred’s family is staying at a campground, but he can’t add this to Kayla’s “list of things we know.” He can’t add the campground’s location to Kayla’s “list of things we don’t know.” While Kayla tries to devise a plan, King tries to communicate his—find the campground! The humans don’t understand, but luckily, Kayla asks Grandma if they can ride on the lake and ask other boaters. From the water, Fred sees the campground, and he eagerly jumps, swims, and reunites with his people. Simple, clean, line-drawn and digitally colored illustrations depict happy, lovable animals and a diverse cast of humans. Kayla and Grandma are black, and Fred’s family is brown.

This fast-paced mystery is a fun addition to this series for new readers. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68263-052-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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 nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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