A slight but sweet dogcentric tale that resonates with warmth and sincerity.

Mitzi The Dish Rag Dog

A playful pup gives voice to her happy, everyday life in this simple, rhyming children’s picture book by debut author Figueroa.

In this modest new picture book’s disarming dedication, the author credits his wife with inspiring his foray into children’s book writing. It began after she brought home a pup named Mitzi, he writes, “even though she had promised she would not get a dog until after I died!” It’s clear from what follows that Figueroa became an enthusiastic canine convert. The self-described “grandfather and dog owner,” “lover of life and humankind,” and “accountant with a poet’s heart” has crafted what amounts to a love letter to a dog he adores. He depicts her as an affectionate, little canine companion, telling her story in rhyme. Children’s books about dogs abound, and many are more substantive in content and visually original than this effort. However, Figueroa’s very young target audience, and dog lovers in particular, will still get a kick out of seeing Mitzi, the “love dog,” nose a ball, run, bounce, sit up, measure her eight-inch height (“no bigger than a dish rag”) against a ruler, wave her legs in the air to show her soft belly, and give comforting licks and cuddles to her owners. Debut illustrator Cudzilo renders Mitzi in a close-up perspective as a cream-colored, broad-stroke cartoon canine with a red collar and gold tag, giving her a winsome expression that reflects this brief tale’s sweet sensibility. Each simple couplet, divided into four lines and rendered in a pleasant typeface that appears hand-drawn, begins on one page and ends on the next. The book concludes with several white pages, decorated with square, blue borders, which are intended to serve as frames for readers’ own artwork. Figueroa fondly includes his own granddaughter’s crayon portrait of Mitzi as an example and invites readers to get creative and draw pictures of themselves, the story’s canine star (“Now you draw Mitzi”), and the readers’ own pets.

A slight but sweet dogcentric tale that resonates with warmth and sincerity.

Pub Date: March 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4834-4318-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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