A sweet tale in Sashi’s series that should appeal to dog lovers.

Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl

From the Sashi series , Vol. 3

Sashi, the formerly shy sheltie, returns in this third illustrated adventure, tackling the issue of puppy mills.

In Greiner (Sashi Adopts a Brother, 2015) and Spicer’s latest installment, Sashi is one of two dogs living permanently with a family—a mother and daughter—that fosters Shetland sheepdogs until they finally can be adopted. Sashi welcomes the arrival of new dogs, but when Cinnamon appears, she knows this canine is different. Burdened by a dirty and unkempt coat, the poor dog exhibits fright and suspicion. As Sashi’s humans explain, Cinnamon came from a puppy mill, where she was never given enough food and water and never showered with affection. Cinnamon lived in a cage, making puppies rather than serving as a beloved pet. Her new caretakers are determined to help Cinnamon heal, and Sashi likes the small dog right away. Sashi’s brother Buddy also forges a friendship with Cinnamon quickly, and the two dogs teach their new pal how to behave in a family, while the humans offer her treats, care, and comfort. Cinnamon learns to love cavorting outdoors—something she’s never experienced before—and after some time in her new home, she starts to play with Sashi and Buddy. The two family shelties show Cinnamon how to receive goodies from their humans, and she learns that the caretakers will give her delicious food as well as attention (including petting). The humans and family shelties help train Cinnamon until another clan with dogs comes to visit. After several meetings, the new family welcomes Cinnamon into its home, where she can be loved forever. Though the idea of puppy mills can be a scary, threatening concept for young readers, Greiner and Spicer present that dark place with just the right amount of tension, not dwelling on it but not shying away from the reasons Cinnamon has trouble trusting people. As usual, Spicer captures the personality of the dogs in her charming illustrations beautifully, and readers are likely to fall in love with the dogs as much as the human characters do. Greiner’s notes about choosing the right kind of dog for a household are important for parents discussing pets with children.

A sweet tale in Sashi’s series that should appeal to dog lovers.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61254-930-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.


A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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