A sweet slice of rural American canine life.




A lovable bird dog points the way to outdoor fun in the country in this children’s book.

Harkey (The Budding Staff, 2005) presents a playful collection of stories narrated by a German short-haired pointer named Doc (his pedigree name is Chicoree’s Hickory Doc). The oldest in a family of five, good ol’ Doc spins colorful tales about quail-hunting dogs—like his daughter, Patch, who is the best tracker of all—in rural Oklahoma. Then there’s Doc’s laughably snooty little brother, Zeke, who brags about being kin to royalty because his coat is speckled instead of a “common” liver brown like Doc’s. The two brothers vie for the affections of Sly, a graceful bird dog with an impressive pedigree. Featuring other silly characters, such as a clumsy Labrador retriever named Newt, the tales reveal that life at the Lazy Dog Hacienda is full of giggly high jinks and an occasional snout of porcupine quills. There are scary moments, though, as when Big Bad Carl—the meanest hunter ever—steals Patch. And there’s some intrigue, including the mystery of the missing dog food. While conventional black-and-white drawings of big-eyed canines precede the chapters, they add little excitement to the stories (aimed at elementary school readers). But catchy chapter titles, like “Hamburgers, Fries, Caesar Salad, and Temptation,” and boldface subtitles break the prose into eye-appealing sections. With a voice that’s as friendly as a neighbor at the door with a pecan pie, Doc’s down-home dialogue is sprinkled with references that many kids should like. For example, he uses fast food to describe the scent of quails: “Well, I can tell you they smell like no other smell—sort of a cross between chicken nuggets and fries.” When he’s around Zeke, Doc acts like a human brother; for example, they have staring contests. For those who aren’t squeamish about dogs eating pig ears for snacks, this collection gently—and respectfully—offers the basics of quail hunting: during the “off season,” the birds “need to rest and repopulate.” Harkey accents the prose with short, memorable landscape descriptions: wind that’s always blowing and prairie grass way taller than the dogs.

A sweet slice of rural American canine life.

Pub Date: July 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4808-4723-1

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.


A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character.


One of Boynton's signature characters celebrates Halloween.

It's Halloween time, and Pookie the pig is delighted. Mom helps the little porker pick out the perfect Halloween costume, a process that spans the entire board book. Using an abcb rhyme scheme, Boynton dresses Pookie in a series of cheerful costumes, including a dragon, a bunny, and even a caped superhero. Pookie eventually settles on the holiday classic, a ghost, by way of a bedsheet. Boynton sprinkles in amusing asides to her stanzas as Pookie offers costume commentary ("It's itchy"; "It's hot"; "I feel silly"). Little readers will enjoy the notion of transforming themselves with their own Halloween costumes while reading this book, and a few parents may get some ideas as well. Boynton's clean, sharp illustrations are as good as ever. This is Pookie's first holiday title, but readers will surely welcome more.

A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51233-5

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Robin Corey/Random

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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