MAJOR MAKES HISTORY

FROM THE SHELTER TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Canine chronicles of the current administration abound; this one too is outdated, if a bit more waggish than most.

A presidential dog tells all.

Alternating between cutesy-poo preciousness—“I am a dog, but you could probably tell that already. You seem pretty on the ball, for a person”—and doggy high spirits, the Biden pooch tells his story. In Major’s telling, meeting Joe in an animal shelter (“a place where dogs like me can rescue the families that need us”) led directly to the White House. “Coincidence? Well, I don’t think so.” Shrugging off the multiple biting incidents (“Sometimes I get too excited”), he lays out days of walks, playful mischief, and gathering around the toilet for “afternoon tea,” to which Twiss adds an afterword on presidential pets of the past and a list of shelter adoption resources. The vice president and other people of color join both the Bidens and a multibreed cast of shelter dogs in Lechuga’s buttoned-up cartoon illustrations—as, repeatedly, does Major’s canine counterpart Champ, whose death in June 2021 goes unremarked before the author’s note. Young readers may need a parental gloss. Otherwise, the illustrations follow in the familiar unreliable-pet-narrator tradition of so many first-person-animal picture books, depicting Major and Champ wreaking havoc as they “help in the garden” and cowering under a table while a staffer vacuums even as Major boasts of “defend[ing] the house from our most ferocious enemy.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Canine chronicles of the current administration abound; this one too is outdated, if a bit more waggish than most. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-311876-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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