HELP ME, MR. MUTT!

EXPERT ANSWERS FOR DOGS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS

Joining that other epistle-toting dog LaRue (first met in Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, 2002), self-described “Canine Counselor” Mr. Mutt fires off savvy solutions for correspondents with a string of doggy dilemmas, from enforced diets and silly costumes to humans who’d rather watch TV than play “fetch.” Reminding readers (two-legged ones too, perchance) that it’s entirely natural for dogs to bark, play and maybe get a little rank, and also that “it’s a dog-eat-treat world,” Mr. Mutt suggests coping strategies (“If your people get you in the tub, start shaking”), many of which involve some harassment of the local felines. That last draws counterfire from the Counselor’s own cat and, ultimately, a brief coup—depicted in the gleefully disorderly watercolors by a view of the chubby writer tied to his own desk chair with real yarn—that muzzles Mr. Mutt until he’s rescued by a charging squad of loyal fans. A host of hilarious dog portraits provide further treats. Three licks (“People call it kisses. We call it dessert.”) for the Stevens sisters. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-204628-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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