Soothing and satisfying; perfect for reading on the porch on a summer evening, preferably next to a dog.

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HOMER

Stories of patiently waiting dogs have been around for just about forever, or at least since Homer wrote about faithful Argos recognizing Odysseus after a 20-year absence. In Cooper’s touching story, the patient pup is an aging yellow Lab named Homer, whose love for his family is as deep and wide as the ocean outside their cottage.

At daybreak Homer is already lying on the front porch, looking out over a field and beach, as well as the sea beyond. As the family members (including three more dogs) pass by Homer on their way out, they all invite him to come along to play in the water, dig in the sand or bike to the store. Homer replies to each in turn that he is happy to stay right there on the porch, watching and waiting. His family returns, and the pleasant day winds down, with Homer finally curling up in a cozy armchair for the night, content because “I have everything I want.” Soft-focus watercolor illustrations effectively convey the seaside atmosphere with a combination of formats, including some pages with consecutive panels and wordless double-page spreads showing a wide view of the cottage and beach and the inside of the home with the family getting ready for bed.

Soothing and satisfying; perfect for reading on the porch on a summer evening, preferably next to a dog. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-201248-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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