Detective Dog Nell is quite a satisfactory sleuth. Surely she has more cases to solve? (Picture book. 3-7)



A talented dog named Nell uses her acute sense of smell to solve mysteries in her neighborhood, including the complete disappearance of a classroom library.

Rollicking, rhyming text describes Nell’s successes at solving little puzzles and finding missing items for her owner, a 6-year-old boy named Peter. Detective Dog Nell accompanies Peter to school each Monday, where she listens to children read stories from their well-stocked library shelves. One Monday, the books are all missing from the shelves, and the students and teacher are despondent. Nell leads the class of children and their teacher, Mr. Jones, on a search to find the books, which have been stolen by a (nonscary) giant named Ted. Then ever resourceful Nell leads the group to the library, where Ted gets his own library card so he can read books as much as he likes. Donaldson’s pitch-perfect text effectively uses humorous twists and rich vocabulary as well as a fine sense of melodramatic pacing. Bold watercolor-and-pencil illustrations give all the characters distinct personalities and plant funny details to spot in the busy double-page spreads. Some of the townspeople have brown skin, as do two students in Peter’s class; the other characters, including Peter, Ted, and Mr. Jones, seem to be white. A male primary school teacher and a female canine title character are welcome representations countering stereotypes, especially dog protagonists who default to male.

Detective Dog Nell is quite a satisfactory sleuth. Surely she has more cases to solve? (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15676-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.


Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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