An appealing and upbeat biography of a winsome dog with a plucky and compassionate owner.




Smiley is a rescued, disabled golden retriever with such a mellow and kind disposition that he has become a highly effective therapy dog.

He was born in a Canadian puppy mill, and like many puppy mill dogs, he has suffered lifelong consequences. He was born without eyes and also has dwarfism, causing him to have a somewhat oversized head and shortened limbs. Rescued by the author, a veterinary technician, he was extremely anxious during his early days: he could not be left home alone, was afraid to ride in a car, and was very withdrawn. Under George’s tender care, he gradually learned to overcome some of his fears. He came to work with her at a veterinary clinic, where he became comfortable meeting strangers. Since George has two other dogs, he learned to get along with other animals. Many attractive color photographs of this genial dog are included. The brief text describes Smiley’s many problems without ever getting maudlin and includes several uplifting quotes from a variety of well-known people. A scattering of page-sized sidebars describe puppy mills, explain the use of therapy dogs, and offer achievable ways that readers can help. The connection between people overcoming disabilities and Smiley’s upbeat existence is alluded to but not so heavy-handedly it will turn readers off.

An appealing and upbeat biography of a winsome dog with a plucky and compassionate owner. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55455-412-6

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Pretty but insubstantial.


Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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