Skip this treacle and opt for Rachel Rivett and Mique Moriuchi’s I Imagine (2011) or Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Sean Qualls'...

EVERY WHICH WAY TO PRAY

A couple of young hippopotami receive instruction in the ease and pleasure of prayer in this vapid if well-meant outing.

When Harley and Hayley spot a silhouetted pelican sitting on a roof, they think it's an angel. Upon realizing that Pouch is corporeal, Harley is disappointed. He had momentarily hoped to have a close encounter with heaven, but, "We'll NEVER get that close to God." Not so, burbles Pouch. Anyone can be close to God. "That's what prayer is for!" But Harley's book, The Rules of Prayer, say that prayer is hard, he protests. Pouch is joined by a group of kibitzing animals who, rule by rule, contradict the prescriptions in the book and offer liberating encouragement. You don't have to wear special clothes or be in a special place; you don't have to kneel or fold your hands (an especial problem for animals); you can shout and laugh in your prayers. The text is purely pedestrian, unfurling line after line of purposive dialogue. The illustrations are bland cartoons with little to no subtlety in composition, color or expression. The result is a wholly didactic package that delivers a positive and worthwhile message with no art whatsoever.

Skip this treacle and opt for Rachel Rivett and Mique Moriuchi’s I Imagine (2011) or Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Sean Qualls' Who Will I Be, Lord? (2009) for more artful treatments of children's communication with God. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72317-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households.

LATKE, THE LUCKY DOG

A rescued dog chosen as a Hanukkah present at an animal shelter relates his good luck as he learns to adapt to his new family and home.

Zoe and Zach welcome their new pet, a playful, medium-sized, golden-brown dog, and name him Latke (he’s exactly the color of one). The newest member of the family assumes all the celebratory aspects of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday are just for him and innocently creates a mild disturbance on each night. Latke eats the sufganiyot and latkes, rips open presents, chews up the dreidels and candles, slobbers all over the chocolate gelt and knocks the bowl of applesauce over. With each mishap, Zoe and Zach find a way to forgive, letting the curious new dog know he is very fortunate indeed. Ever remorseful, Latke finally accepts his own gift of a chew toy and understands he is one lucky dog to be part of a great family. Latke relates his own story, folding his innocent misdeeds into the basic structure of the eight nights of remembrance. Simple, childlike gouache scenes favor the star of the story, a sweet and personable mutt sporting floppy black ears against a brown happy face. He has rather more personality than the overall presentation, which cannot shed its inherent didacticism.

Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9038-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable

PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE

A mouse searches for and finally finds her missing Seder plate.

Pippa is an industrious house-cleaning mouse. And no wonder—Passover is starting this very evening. Dusting and sweeping finished, she turns her attention to setting the table as a pot of chicken stew bubbles away on the stovetop. But there is one very important object that is missing: the “special Seder plate.” Frantically, the mouse searches through boxes and cupboards and finally ventures into the yard. First she encounters a very large cat and asks if it has seen the plate. “No,” answers the cat and points her to a snake, who sends her to an owl, who directs her to Golda Fish, prettily swimming in the water. Success! Kirkfield’s little tale is written in rhyming couplets with much repetition of “QUIVER! QUAVER! SHIVER! SHAKE!” for emphasis with each interaction with a predator, so readers will be mightily puzzled when the formerly frightful critters join Pippa at the holiday table. Weber’s gouache, crayon, and collage illustrations are sweetly pretty. The final illustration features a Seder plate with transliterated Hebrew and an English translation of the components. Readers familiar with the holiday may find this mildly enjoyable, but others will likely want and need more information.

In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4162-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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