Too mean-spirited to be really funny.

THE PET PARADE

From the Dear Beast series , Vol. 2

The drama behind an upcoming pet parade, told in epistolary style.

Simon, Andy’s cat, is writing to Baxter, Andy’s dog. Simon invites Baxter to march in the upcoming pet parade, taking Simon’s place. Baxter replies affirmatively with wriggly enthusiasm and atrocious spelling. When Simon asks Baxter what his costume will be and reminds him to be more attentive to his spelling, Baxter writes back that the costume is a secret, that “speling is…not vary fun,” and that he has given Simon the nickname of Cat Man. Simon says he doesn’t want a nickname, but Baxter persists, insensitively. While Simon is unfailingly polite in his epistolary quest to find out what Baxter’s costume is, readers may detect in the responses he receives that he is not altogether an innocent party. Nevertheless, many of those responses are noticeably ungracious. And Baxter, with his willful dismissal of Simon’s feelings, adds to the story’s pervasively subtle mean-spiritedness. Backmatter gives a “Doggie Dictionary” that translates Baxter’s ubiquitous misspellings into proper words, but as a device, his habit is more intrusive than cute, often forcing readers who are trying to master spelling themselves to sound out what should be sight words to glean meaning. Andy is White, as is his chief competitor, and his friend Noah is a child of color. Atteberry renders expressions well, but the goldfish with the big red lips and long eyelashes is tiresomely stereotypical, as is the apparently elderly snail delivering the letters.

Too mean-spirited to be really funny. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4493-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

Music takes center stage and bullies get properly pun-ished in this hearty and wholesome howl.

DOLLY PARTON'S BILLY THE KID MAKES IT BIG

In this picture book from singer Parton and co-author Perl, a small French bulldog goes to Nashville, joins a band, fends off bullies, and meets one of the queens of country music.

Promising at the outset that this is just the first of a series of adventures starring her beloved “god-dog,” Parton goes on to hit all the conventional thematic notes. Inspired by musical dreams, Billy heads for Nashville. After a “ruff day” in which being scorned by big dogs for not being a “true muttropolitan” leaves him feeling “lower than a stick on the ground,” he eats some flowers, strums some tunes, forms a band with a trio of little dogs, and, after sending the big pooches packing, trots out a “pawsome” performance at the “Battle of the Bow-Wows.” And from there it’s on to the Grand Ole Opry to hear his big-haired favorite singer warble out lines from her song “Makin’ Fun Ain’t Funny,” about celebrating differences rather than mocking them. Haley slips those lines, along with references to “Jowlene” and “I will pawlways love you,” into painted scenes of an all-dog-or-Dolly cast set against swirls of music and simply drawn backdrops. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Music takes center stage and bullies get properly pun-ished in this hearty and wholesome howl. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593661574

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

Did you like this book?

more