While this effort is a thoughtful and well-meaning introduction to the use of therapy dogs for children in this situation,...

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A FRIEND LIKE IGGY

This Canadian import focuses on Iggy, a therapy dog who assists children in a program in Toronto as they participate in investigations of child abuse.

Iggy is a black Lab with soulful, brown eyes and a gentle demeanor. He is called a “facility dog” at the social services program where he works. The dog and his handler meet with children who are victims of child abuse, accompanying the children when they testify in court or when they meet with police officers or doctors. The sensitively written text does not specifically address instances of abuse but instead refers to children speaking about “what happened to you” and the difficulty of testifying in court near “the person I didn’t want to see or talk in front of.” While Iggy is a real dog, the children in the photographs illustrating the story are models portraying the victims of child abuse. The children are of different ethnicities and range in age from preschool to high school age. The first-person text is rather confusing at first, as it is written as though one specific child is the narrator. However, the illustrations show many different children as the story progresses, with each one contributing to the narrative.

While this effort is a thoughtful and well-meaning introduction to the use of therapy dogs for children in this situation, it’s probably best suited to specific use in programs similar to Iggy’s. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77260-084-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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PEACEFUL FIGHTS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS

An alphabet book to bring change, with the younger generation leading the way.

Nonviolent protests play a major part in history. Sanders wants to ensure that readers learn the importance of taking a stand at an early age. Comparisons to Innosanto Nagara’s A Is for Activist (2013) are inescapable, but this primer carries a bit more depth. It is a direct call to action. The spread for I and J, for instance, pleads: “Inquire. / Invite. / Inform. / Imagine. // Join others on the journey. Join others in the fight.” (The words beginning with I appear on protest signs, while the words beginning with J appear in the narrative text.) The page for S implores readers to “Stand up. / Speak out. / Sit down. / Sing loud. / Be silent.” While the spread for P? A pure white background that whispers a single word: “Pray.” Historical events such as the Delano grape strike (“Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!”) share the book with current ones, such as a protesting football player (“Take a knee”). Schorr’s matte, cut-paper illustrations are full of intricate parts, echoing the ways individuals weave together to form a community. Various races, ages, ethnicities, and abilities are all present. Adult-child interaction is still needed to lift this work to its full potential, but an author’s note and glossary help provide context for an engaging conversation.

Hopeful. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2943-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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