An endearing, visually rib-tickling ode to best friends.

OLLIE AND AUGUSTUS

As Ollie starts school, he worries his dog, Augustus, will miss him.

Even though Ollie’s “small—like a pickling jar or a shoebox,” and Augustus is “big—like a fridge or a table,” these best friends do “most things together.” Ollie’s favorite activity is digging while Augustus likes stick collecting. Sometimes they annoy and irritate each other, but if they get mad, they make up in time for lunch. Poised to start school, Ollie fears Augustus will be lonely and advertises for a friend for Augustus, emphasizing everything Augustus likes to do. Next day, canine candidates line up to interview for the position. After a series of disappointing play dates, none of the applicants understand Augustus’ “favorite things,” nor does he understand theirs. Although Ollie spends the first day of school sad and worrying about Augustus, he’s in for a surprise. Delicate earth-toned illustrations rely on fine, sketchy outlines, pale color highlights, and all-white backgrounds to humorously flesh out the spare text. Fragile, diminutive Ollie appears an unlikely match for his massive canine buddy, but amusing vignettes reveal these pals engrossed in painting, bike riding, people watching, dressing up, tree climbing, and, of course, digging and stick collecting.

An endearing, visually rib-tickling ode to best friends. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0967-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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