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An upbeat reminder that canine conversations are rich with meaning.

Dogs “speak” in body language—literally!

Sounds are involved in canine communications, certainly, but dogs mostly employ a series of movements to express themselves to guardians and other dogs, and they ingeniously use body parts—eyes, ears, paws, noses, faces, tongues, butts, legs, and tails—to say what they want to say. Additionally, where dogs happen to be at any given moment and the circumstances they find themselves in also figure into how pooches relay important messages. Dogs have much to tell us, and this book clarifies the basics of pupspeak effectively and humorously, getting its points across in simple, albeit clunky, verse. When necessary to make the rhyme scheme and rhythm work—and to enhance child friendliness—some words are occasionally substituted for familiar vocabulary; e.g., waggers for tails and sniffers for noses. Different type sizes and some words set in all capitals heighten visual interest. The lively, colorful illustrations have child appeal and feature frisky pups of various colors, sizes, and breeds; one particular large, yellow, curly-haired, red-leashed pet pooch plays a starring role. Stylized-looking humans are diverse in terms of race and age. Endpapers present an assortment of jaunty dogs “speaking.” Backmatter includes an author’s note, an explanation of the dog language used in the book, dog facts, and a bibliography. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An upbeat reminder that canine conversations are rich with meaning. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38919-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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