Not too amusing, not too original, not too necessary.

BE YOUR OWN DOG

From the Teddy the Dog series

Teddy is a large, gray-brown dog who enjoys his life as “leader of the pack,” until he receives the unwanted present of a cat companion.

The big dog’s first-person narrative is written in an overconfident, boastful tone, presenting him as “charming and fetching,” though he is proud to say he “never actually fetches.” He never takes off his sunglasses as he moves from one mischievous mess to another: upending a hot dog stand, putting his paw prints on a freshly painted house, and getting into the neighbor’s trash can. But Teddy’s life changes when his aunt sends him a huge package containing a cat that needs a new home. Teddy tries to indoctrinate Penelope the cat in his idea of proper (canine) behavior, but she has her own way of doing things. In a characterization-defying conclusion, Teddy decides to cooperate, take a nap with the cat in his favorite armchair, and bump paws together, which he considers acting like a cat. Teddy’s annoying, superior attitude falls flat, as he just seems full of himself rather than funny. Bold cartoon-style illustrations provide some humor with Teddy’s antics, but he never really comes alive as a character due to the sunglasses covering his eyes in all the illustrations. Penelope, or Fishbreath as Teddy calls her, has more personality, but she is unbelievably pliant for a newly arrived cat.

Not too amusing, not too original, not too necessary. (Picture book.3-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238283-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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