A pleasant story about a curious horse that will spark the imaginations of young readers.

Penny the Palomino Quarter Horse and Her New Shoes

A horse wonders what kind of new shoes she could possibly wear in Scogin’s debut children’s book. 

Penny is a bright, curious palomino quarter horse who spends her days playing outside in the grass with her friend, the ranch dog, lapping up water from the stream, and chasing “black and gold butterflies until the sleepy sun hid itself behind the mountains.” It’s a straightforward, easy life until she overhears her owner, Mr. Dollarhide, saying that Penny will be getting new shoes the next day. The little horse, perplexed by what she heard, wonders why a horse would need shoes and thinks about all the types of shoes she’s seen: the 13-year-old son of her owner, for example, has sneakers with wheels; the 19-year-old daughter wears teetering high heels; and Mr. Dollarhide wears “well-worn silver leather cowboy boots with points in the front,” which “looked very comfortable on him.” She imagines her big horse hooves wearing each of the shoes—she would move in four different directions with wheels on her feet, smash the delicate high heels with her heavy hooves, and wouldn’t fit into narrow cowboy boots. The next morning, Mr. Dollarhide shows Penny just what her new shoes look like, and she realizes that they’re just right. This warmly written story, told with humor in Ray’s colorful illustrations and Scogin’s rich, descriptive language, introduces a character that kids will relate to. Penny is energetic and curious about the world and about herself; for example, when she imagines wearing other people’s shoes, she sees how their lives are different from hers but also understands how their shoes work well for them. When she finally receives her own pair of silver horseshoes, it's clear that she’s thrilled—her tail “wiggled, wagged, whipped, and whirled with excitement”—because she has a pair of shoes that’s uniquely hers.

A pleasant story about a curious horse that will spark the imaginations of young readers.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sarah Book Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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An A+ for Little E and his creator.

LITTLE EXCAVATOR

A petite excavator named Little E finds his place among a crew of full-sized, heavy-construction equipment working together to build a park.

The anthropomorphic Little E, with bright, friendly eyes and a cheery smile, invites readers into the story on the large-format cover. He is followed by a brown-and-white–spotted dog, which appears throughout the story as a friend to Little E. The construction vehicles arrive at an abandoned lot and begin working together to transform the property into a park. The rollicking, rhyming text names each type of rig and its function, including lots of sound effects and action verbs set in display type integrated into the illustrations: “Pusha-pusha smusha-smusha SMASH SMASH SMASH!” Little E tries to help with each step, but he is either too small or not strong enough for the task at hand. The last step of the park-construction project is the planting of a tree on an island reached by a bridge, but all the big rigs are too large to safely cross the wooden bridge. In a pitch-perfect conclusion, Little E is just the right size for the job. Dewdney, the late author/illustrator of the Llama Llama series, has constructed a solid winner for one of her final books, with an appealing main character, vibrant illustrations with varying perspectives, and an action-packed, rhyming text with sound effects just begging to be read aloud with dramatic effect.

An A+ for Little E and his creator. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99920-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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