Fans of Harkey’s previous works will enjoy this adventurous story of silly animal antics.

SOLITARY TOES AND BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS

The hunting dogs at Lazy Dog Hacienda deal with an interloping horse in this children’s book.

Chicoree’s Hickory Doc, a shorthaired pointer dog, his brother Zeke, and Deacon, another dog, feel threatened when a horse named B.J. arrives at their hacienda. The dogs inform her that her physical traits, such as her “solitary toes,” aren’t conducive to hunting. B.J. and the dogs swap insults, and Zeke and the horse get into a physical altercation, causing Zeke to stumble into a garden, where he gets bitten by a turtle. The dogs are jealous that B.J. receives extra attention, but Doc reassures the others that their canine assistance is still necessary. He tells Zeke that “B.J. can’t creep through the tall grass and find quail. Why, she would scare them off!” Angry after he spots B.J. snacking on dog food, Zeke proposes that they race, with the winner getting to eat all the chow in the barn. On race day, Zeke feigns illness, requiring Deacon, who has three legs, to compete instead. B.J. falls while attempting to nip Deacon’s nonexistent back leg. Deacon wins and shares his prize with the others—including B.J. (Doc reveals that their owner later sent B.J. to a new home because she “took a bite out of upholstery in his old red truck.”) Although this story features characters from Harkey’s (The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow, 2018, etc.) other books, it works well as a stand-alone title, as it includes introductory details, such as the dogs’ pedigree names, family history, and physical descriptions. A subplot about a cowbird who takes up residence in a dove’s nest feels underdeveloped, and it detracts from the main storyline; it might’ve been better as the focus of another book. The resolution of the main plot is also easy to predict, but this doesn’t detract from the book’s overall appeal. Returning illustrator Minick’s colorful, cartoonish images provide additional context; for example, the dogs’ owner is referred to only as “The Great One,” but the images clarify that he’s human.

Fans of Harkey’s previous works will enjoy this adventurous story of silly animal antics.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7316-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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