An enjoyable canine tale with just enough pathos and plenty of heart.




A rescue puppy story serves as a broad-based anti-bullying and anti-discrimination lesson for grade schoolers in this debut children’s book.

Hegle introduces this tale with an optimistic vision of the future. The year is 2050 and Bella, a young wheelchair-bound girl, tells her adoptive mother about a “hologram movie” she watched in school showing how in the past individuals went to war over religion, women were treated badly, and people of color were hated. She asks how that all changed. Her mother explains that when people read the story of Ellie Bleu, an abandoned puppy, they began to alter their attitudes. Jumping back to the past, the author begins Ellie’s true story, delightfully written in the first-person voice of the canine. She is, in fact, the puppy Hegle adopted. As a pup, Ellie was first adopted by a family that turned out to be abusive. After a few months, she was literally thrown away, tossed over a fence on a freezing, snowy night. Ellie wound up in a Humane Society animal shelter, but she was labeled “timid and aggressive.” Worse, she was a pit bull mix, shunned by most prospective adopters because of the breed’s reputation for being dangerous. Her only act of aggression occurred when she was injured, cold, and terrified and tried to elude a dog catcher. Still, Ellie was scheduled to be euthanized. And then something magnificent happened. In this poignant story, Ellie’s gentle voice captures the full range of her emotions, from frightened puppy—“My legs started shaking and I shuddered all over. Then I laid down in the back corner, as far away from the door as I could”—to joyful family member. The uplifting tale should appeal to both children and their parents. Debut illustrator Weaver’s high-quality, full-page images, with warm earth tones, implicitly reinforce the story’s positive message of inclusivity, as articulated in the beginning by Bella’s mother: “Every dog or person, boy or girl, are all about love and…everyone deserves the same chances.”

An enjoyable canine tale with just enough pathos and plenty of heart.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73315-680-6

Page Count: 38

Publisher: WoW! Publishing and Promotions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

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The volume, like its subject, is a perfect square, welcoming readers into a colorful, geometric romp. Opposite a shiny red page with white type sits “a perfect [red] square. It had four matching corners and four equal sides.” On the next page, the square wears a smile, because it is “perfectly happy.” On Monday, though, the square is no longer square; someone has cut it up and had at it with a hole puncher, so those shapes arrange themselves into a fountain (with red dots as water). On Tuesday, the square is torn into orange shapes and becomes a garden with the addition of a few well-placed lines. Wednesday’s green shreds become a park, Friday’s blue ribbons turn into a river. Each day, the brilliant colors change, and the square is torn, crumpled or cut. The artist adds lines—making fish, clouds, etc.—that enable readers to see the new creation. The simple language is as perfect as the initial square. Hall’s acrylic monotypes make each iteration slightly different in texture and color, so the whole is a visual feast. The entire week comes together in a “This is the house that Jack built” way at the end, when on Sunday the square becomes a window onto all that was made. Young readers will absorb the visual lessons effortlessly and with delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-191513-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Well-crafted, accessible, and essential.



A vital collection of vignettes from the Kindertransport, the World War II rescue effort that brought about 10,000 child refugees from Nazi-controlled countries into Britain.

Years before the Nazis ramped up to genocide, the anti-Semitic laws of the Third Reich convinced some parents that their children were unsafe. Emigration, however, was quite difficult. Even for those prepared to move somewhere they didn’t speak the language, it was shockingly difficult to get a visa. England and the United States had strict immigration quotas. Nevertheless, refugee advocates and the British Home Office hatched a plan to bring child refugees into Britain and settle them with foster families. (A similar attempt in the U.S. died in Congress.) The voices of myriad Kindertransport survivors are used to tell of this harrowing time, recalling in oral histories and published and unpublished memoirs their prewar lives, the journey, their foster families. Sidebars provide more resources about the people in each section; it’s startlingly powerful to read a survivor’s story and then go to a YouTube video or BBC recording featuring that same survivor, speaking as an adult or recorded as a child more than 80 years ago. Historical context, personal stories, and letters are seamlessly integrated in this history of frightened refugee children in a new land and their brave parents’ making “the heart-wrenching decision” to send their children away with strangers to a foreign country.

Well-crafted, accessible, and essential. (timeline, glossary, resources, index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-25572-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A slight addition to a seasonal collection redeemed by its striking illustrations.


A dialogic approach to the turn of the seasons.

A young child, with beige skin and dark hair, and a white dog walk through the darkened, snowy countryside. They greet the snow and the winter night; a frozen pond and an empty nest; and even a glass house. Each in turn answers back, offering insight into their experience of the chilly atmosphere. Following a wordless spread that serves as a pictorial climax, the season shifts toward spring, with increased sunlight, warmth, melting snow, and the renewed presence of songbirds and flowers. The world has come to life again, and the child and dog run through green fields sparsely patched with retreating snow. The contrasting color palettes and geometric shapes in the accumulating spreads effectively evoke the stark darkness of winter and the bright warmth of spring. Ground-level and bird’s-eye perspectives of the rural setting and tiny details reward eagle-eyed readers. The rapid change from nocturnal winter storm to bright, green spring day seems a bit contrived, underscoring the book’s premise of transition and metamorphosis. Moreover, the child’s conversation with the natural world at times leaves readers unclear of who is speaking, which may cause confusion during a read-aloud. This is the third book in Pak’s seasonal cycle.

A slight addition to a seasonal collection redeemed by its striking illustrations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15172-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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