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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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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