While it’s laudable that McCully has ensured this story isn’t lost to the annals of history, it’s not her strongest visual...

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STRONGHEART

THE WORLD'S FIRST MOVIE STAR DOG

Caldecott medalist McCully sheds light on a forgotten pioneer.

Growing up in World War I Germany, Etzel von Oeringen—later known as “Strongheart”—is trained as a police dog. After the war, he’s discarded and sent to a kennel in the United States, where he’s found by Hollywood screenwriter Jane and her director husband, Larry. When Larry abruptly enters the yard of the kennel, Etzel attacks. Understandably frightened, Jane screams and runs, but her unmannerly husband demands she, “HALT AND KEEP STILL!”—a directive followed by both Jane and Etzel. Given McCully’s penchant for illustrating stories about strong girls and women, it’s particularly confusing that Larry’s disturbing behavior isn’t examined. Larry believes Etzel can act if he can learn to relax, which Larry “teaches” by pushing Etzel over repeatedly and shouting, “Play!” If readers can endure the unlikable owner and struggle through the halting pace, they’ll learn of Strongheart’s rise to fame to become a well-loved screen star. McCully uses bright colors to offset the muted tones of Strongheart’s coat, but so much vibrancy can be distracting.

While it’s laudable that McCully has ensured this story isn’t lost to the annals of history, it’s not her strongest visual or written work . (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9448-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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