A warm and fuzzy look at animals living with disabilities.



Emerson profiles three animals with disabilities featured in The Dodo’s “Little but Fierce” online video series.

In two to three sentences per page, the author introduces a tiny trio. Vera, a French bulldog, “could fit into a teacup,” and her cleft palate made eating difficult; Cody, an alpaca, was too small to stand on her own; and Karamel, a squirrel, was injured in a trap, necessitating the amputation of her four legs (referred to as “arms”). Fortunately, patient humans nursed each back to relative health: “It only takes a little love to make a BIG difference!” Fans of cuddly animals will enjoy the cheery color photos as Vera mugs at the camera, Cody poses in a unicorn costume, and Karamel zooms with her wheeled prostheses. Kids with disabilities may find their furry counterparts comforting or cool. Though the text frames the plucky animals’ disabilities positively, it occasionally does so via clichés that humans with disabilities encounter all too often—though Vera is small, she “doesn’t let that stop her”; Cody “may be tiny, but her heart is BIG!” The page layout is rather busy. Against a graph-paper background, bright blue, green, pink, and yellow borders and text boxes compete with photos and text; occasional blue text against blue background is somewhat hard to read. A glossary defines terms printed in the narrative in boldface, such as “surgery” and “prosthetic.”

A warm and fuzzy look at animals living with disabilities. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57619-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Thin on both fun and facts.


From the What's Wrong? series

An invitation to pick out anachronistic (or downright daffy) details in nine Mesozoic scenes.

Spotting the odd hat or potted plant, roller skates, skis, and other zingers that Solis slips into his moderately crowded cartoon scenes won’t be much of a challenge for most young dinophiles, as there are only five per spread, two of which are virtually pointed out with heavy hints delivered by a pair of human tour guides, and there is a visual key at the end. Perhaps to compensate for setting the bar so low, the author and illustrator repeatedly don’t play fair—designating the rainbow-crested Guaibasaurus specimen bogus, for instance, for the weak reason that “scientists don’t think [its crest] was rainbow colored,” and slipping a chicken and a duck in among such similarly feathered predecessors as Bambiraptor, which is even described as “look[ing] like a purple duck or chicken.” Just to muddy the waters a bit more, each picture also includes an unlikely element that is actually correct (“Omeisaurus had a neck which was four times longer than its body”), and the introductory comments include a claim that “Earth was a scorching hot, dry desert when dinosaurs first appeared,” which is both overly general about our planet’s land masses and ignores the oceans. One of the tour guides presents Asian and the other white.

Thin on both fun and facts. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-477-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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The fisherman’s wife gets, as usual, short shrift…but this is a rollicking rendition, particularly well-suited to reading...


A familiar folk tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, transplanted to the bayou.

Swamp creatures intone a rhythmic chorus—“ ‘The fish was a-splashin’ as Paul went a-crashin’ / down to the bottom of the boat.’ / Kerplunk!”—each time the fisherman rows out to beg another wish of the talking sac-a-lait (the crappie suffers, she wails, under a spell from the evil swamp queen) at the behest of his ambitious wife, Paulette. So it is that Paulette gets a new pot, then goes from a cook whose gumbo earns raves from all over to mistress of a big house in a wealthy neighborhood. But her ultimate demand to be queen of the Mardi Gras Ball leaves the couple as poor yet happy as they began. Unlike the wife in another Cajun version, Whitney Stewart’s Catfish Tale, illustrated by Gerald Guerlais (2014), Paulette never takes any action to redeem herself. But Paul comes off as kindhearted rather than henpecked; so much so, in fact, that he gets one final, unspoken wish, which he bestows on the sac-a-lait herself. And soon a magnificent new Mardi Gras queen is crowned. Both as fish and, later, queen, the sac-a-lait sports glamorous, long-lashed blue eyes and lush red lips in Leonhard’s comically hyperbolic illustrations. Paul and Paulette present as white, but along with showing a range of ruddy bronze skin tones, the whole, robust human cast includes some African-American members.

The fisherman’s wife gets, as usual, short shrift…but this is a rollicking rendition, particularly well-suited to reading aloud. (afterword, glossary) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2366-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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