From the Doggo and Pupper series , Vol. 2

Charming and utterly delightful.

The doggie duo make a welcome return.

In this second entry in the Doggo and Pupper early-reader series, the canine pals’ distinctive personalities come more fully to the fore, and readers discover how close they truly are. Worrywart Pupper may be afraid of giant squirrels, but he longs to be a hero like Wonder Dog, whose exploits he marvels at on TV. He also has real drumming talent, nurtured by Doggo. Doggo is fully realized as a music-loving, tenderhearted, reassuring elder statesman who always has Pupper’s back. In this outing, the pair also enjoy watching the babies in a family of neighboring nesting birds learn to fly. The dog pals’ mutual interest in music, a concert the friends plan to attend in the local park, and a helpless fledgling who hasn’t quite found its wings and requires rescuing—all these plot points culminate in a heartwarming ending that delivers a wonderful message about patience, kindness, and selflessness. Doggo and Pupper may not actually save the world here, but they do offer up a lovely reading experience for emergent readers through simple, dialogue-laden prose that beginning readers should be able to master readily. As in the first series title, the colorful collage and digital illustrations are energetic and endearing. “Pupper’s Guide to Being a Hero,” a 10-step list with suggestions such as “Be helpful” and “Share what you have,” concludes the book. Seen only briefly, the dogs’ owners appear to be light-skinned.

Charming and utterly delightful. (Chapter book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-62100-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the Questioneers series

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out.

Teachers influence children profoundly.

From earliest childhood, Lila Greer, the youngest of five in a single-dad household, has been a worrier. Then the family moves. Entering second grade feels overwhelming: Nothing’s familiar, and she has no friends. But Ms. Kern, Lila’s new teacher, invites Lila to erase the chalkboard at recess and to articulate her fears. It helps that someone listens. Soon, classmates get into the act, and lonely Lila makes friends, emerges from her shell, and learns that “what ifs” have positive sides. Lila grows up, still fretting sometimes, and then becomes a new teacher who worries upon meeting her own students. But then she remembers the teacher who helped her overcome her fears and doubts years earlier. What was that marvelous, ineffable quality Ms. Kern possessed? Then Lila remembers: It was kindness! Harnessing that memory, Lila now welcomes her own “smiling young faces.” This is a sweet story that emphasizes good cheer, helpfulness, and the importance of feeling welcome and heard, no matter who you are: terrific messages, expressed in bouncy verses that scan well. The illustrations are colorfully lively. Readers will appreciate occasional displays of humorous and quirky typesetting creativity and will admire Lila’s poufy topknot, which resembles a huge ball of yarn. Lila is light-skinned, Ms. Kern is tan-skinned, and other characters are diverse.

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781419769047

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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