Big trucks, jovial dogs and snappy rhyming text serve again as the building blocks of another successful entry in this...

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WORK, DOGS, WORK

A HIGHWAY TAIL

A crew comprising cheerful, cartoon-style canines and one cleverly camouflaged cat continues their construction careers in this third entry in an engaging series, following Dig, Dogs, Dig and Build, Dogs, Build (both 2013).

This time, the diligent dogs are working on a highway, both resurfacing a road and creating a new section of highway by blasting through a mountain with explosives. The newly built highway segment ends next to a river, so the dogs magically conjure up the design and materials needed for a new, four-lane bridge. There’s a gap in logic here that cuts out the role of the civil engineer and ignores the necessity of planning a major project of any sort in the real world, but these canine construction workers are so determined and doggone cheerful that their logical lapse must be overlooked. As in the previous volumes, construction vocabulary and geological terms are emphasized in the rhyming text, with a punchy quatrain on each page. Bold, computer-generated illustrations are filled with trucks, machinery, dogs in motion, and lots of gooey substances like asphalt and “mile after mile of / axle-deep muck.”

Big trucks, jovial dogs and snappy rhyming text serve again as the building blocks of another successful entry in this solidly built series. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-218970-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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