A relatable canine protagonist, mild action, and a well-crafted message of compassionate animal advocacy.

GYPSY TO THE RESCUE

A shelter dog takes matters into her own paws and finds the perfect home.

In this illustrated book for grade-school readers by photographer, writer, and animal advocate Blake, a German shepherd pup, the smallest in her litter, yearns for a loving home. But for one reason or another, her adoptions from a Florida shelter keep falling through, earning her the name Gypsy from shelter caretakers “since she couldn’t seem to settle in one place.” (A side note: The author’s well-meaning usage of gypsy here is clear; however, the word has increasingly been dropped from public usage due to its historic application as a pejorative for the Roma people.) When Gypsy is finally adopted, the circumstances are unhappy. She is tied up outside in the hot sun all day, an unloved watchdog. Gypsy escapes, ending up on an ocean pier where anglers dock their boats. A young man named Charlie spots the hungry pup, and before giving her a sandwich, offers his hand to sniff. Gypsy’s reaction is one of several simple, evocative passages that deepen the narrative: “He had a nice smell. It was clean and honest, like the sea.” Gypsy later repays Charlie’s kindness. Between two nicely calibrated action sequences, the author underscores Charlie’s compassionate nature when, during Gypsy’s first boat ride, he gently calms her initial anxiety, letting her know that she can trust him to keep her safe. When Charlie anchors the boat at an island, readers are offered a memorable word picture of “twisted roots of mangrove trees spread into the water, like the fingers of ancient wizards.” The author’s scene-setting and clearly defined characters are adeptly reflected in colorful images by veteran children’s author/illustrator Dey, with the appealing rendering of the German shepherd pup at their center.

A relatable canine protagonist, mild action, and a well-crafted message of compassionate animal advocacy.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-57-886306-1

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Malakie Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TURKEY TROUBLE

From the Turkey Trouble series

Turkey’s in the “kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving...and you’re the main course.” Accordingly, Turkey tries on disguise after disguise, from horse to cow to pig to sheep, at each iteration being told that he looks nothing like the animal he’s trying to mimic (which is quite true, as Harper’s quirky watercolors make crystal clear). He desperately squeezes a red rubber glove onto his head to pass as a rooster, only to overhear the farmer suggest a poultry plan B when he’s unable to turn up the turkey. Turkey’s horrified expression as he stands among the peppers and tomatoes—in November? Chalk it up to artistic license—is priceless, but his surroundings give him an idea. Good fun, but it may lead to a vegetarian table or two. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5529-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more