Though this is something of a one-joke, tail-wagging-the-dog tale, kids will enjoy the playfulness and, no doubt, try...

A BOOK FOR BENNY

Stories about going to the library on a rainy day are not new, but this one has a cunning twist.

It’s raining outside, and Sam, a white girl, is cozily reading when her dog, Benny, tries to get her to play with him. Instead, she takes him to the library to check out a book for him. But the stern librarian (a white woman wearing red glasses) boots them out. Dogs are not welcome. Undeterred, Sam ties Benny to a fence outside the library and chooses several books that she holds up to the window. A book about knights? Benny pees against a tree. A book about the circus? Benny turns his back. On her third try, Sam finds the perfect book for Benny. Here’s the twist: the book is not a storybook but a cookbook of sausages. Both dog and girl are happy. Some sentences are printed in boldface type, underscoring the characters’ interactions. The sprightly illustrations utilize a strong line and add intriguing background details. The appealing cover depicts Sam in a yellow slicker and Benny holding a book in his mouth, foretelling the storyline. While most of the illustrations are fairly realistic, Benny, perhaps some kind of terrier, is blue rather than a natural dog color and sports a rather distracting, drooping mustachio.

Though this is something of a one-joke, tail-wagging-the-dog tale, kids will enjoy the playfulness and, no doubt, try reading to their own dogs. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-352-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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