An entertaining story of a dog’s brave behavior in a devastating wildfire.

ODIN, DOG HERO OF THE FIRES

A resourceful ranch dog protects a herd of goats during a wildfire in Northern California.

A Great Pyrenees dog named Odin narrates this dramatic story based on true events. The dog relates the harrowing tale in first-person present tense, adding dramatic suspense as the plot unfolds. As a fast-moving wildfire approaches, the two owners of a ranch decide to flee. They leave in their truck with only one of their dogs after Odin refuses to get in. He stays behind with a herd of eight young goats, saving their lives by leading them to the shelter of some boulders on a hill. When one of the dog’s owners returns the next day, he finds Odin, all the goats, and two fawns safe near the rocks, though the farmhouse and barn have been burned to the ground. The illustrations are uncompelling in execution and composition, with the animals often portrayed in static poses. The scenes of the nighttime fire and the hazy, gray day that follows, however, project a dreamlike effect that in combination with the posed animals conveys the nightmarish quality of the wildfire and its aftermath. An author’s note describes the owners of the ranch, who present white, and the circumstances of the actual fire. A final page gives information about Great Pyrenees dogs.

An entertaining story of a dog’s brave behavior in a devastating wildfire. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5132-6294-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: West Margin Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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 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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