Fails to live up to its title, but canine lovers should appreciate the happy ending.

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BUILDING CHARACTER WITH BOOGER AND BELLA

LOYALTY

In this debut picture book, a dog in an animal shelter learns about loyalty.

Booger (don’t laugh at his name) Coffman is a young canine, perhaps a Chihuahua, who began life outdoors with his mother and siblings. Things turned rough after he was weaned and he and his mother—his siblings were, mysteriously, taken away in a car—had to scrounge for food. One day, a truck transports Booger to a scary place with cages and noise. He misses his mother; the food smells bad; and he’s sprayed with cold water. But then a little old woman points out the lonely dog to Mike, who kisses him on the head and loves him instantly. Booger, delighted at being chosen, declares: “I will love you and kiss you and...be loyal to you! That’s it! Loyalty! To be a true friend, best buddy or a great companion.” Although Coffman intends to explore the concept of loyalty in this first installment of a series, that characteristic is hard to distinguish from gratitude. That’s especially so since the story ends on the first day of Booger’s friendship with Mike, leaving no time for development—just a heartfelt resolution. It’s also confusing that Bella, mentioned in the title, has no place in the tale. The uncredited dog photographs (plus one illustration), against a pastel watercolor background, are engaging and thankfully don’t depict Booger’s privations.

Fails to live up to its title, but canine lovers should appreciate the happy ending.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64151-385-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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