A clever story somewhat brought down by Olive’s mismatched ages between text and illustrations.

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GEORGE THE HERO HOUND

A hound dog named George helps the new owners of a farm as they adjust to life in the country.

When Farmer Fritz retires and moves away, his dog is left behind to help the new owners when they arrive from the city. The Gladstone family of four includes the parents and two children, a boy named Owen and his sister, Olive. Owen appears to be about 8 or 9, and Olive looks 3 or 4 She is described in the text as Owen’s “baby sister,” who is just saying her first word, but those indications do not match her age as shown in the illustrations. Farmer Fritz is white; the Gladstones all have dark hair and pale skin. George assists the new owners with tractor maintenance and herding cows, but he becomes a hero when he uses his scent-tracking ability to find the missing Olive, off having a tea party with a chicken. George eventually gets the farm running smoothly and finds his true calling watching over Olive. A clever subplot shows the “wily cows” engaging in various escapades to get out into the cornfields for a feast. Humorous illustrations include lots of funny details and action as well as an appealing personality for lovable George.

A clever story somewhat brought down by Olive’s mismatched ages between text and illustrations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-4176-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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