Ally is a clever and creative character that kids with similar afflictions will relate to.

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SNOW DOG, SAND DOG

An imaginative little girl named Ally adores dogs but can’t have one of her own due to her allergies.

After a snowstorm, Ally makes a dog sculpture out of snow. Snow Dog comes to life and follows Ally home, staying till the spring thaw. Then Ally creates a new dog out of flowers and leaves from her backyard, and Flower Dog stays till summer. On a beach vacation, Ally invents Sand Dog, and in the autumn, Leaf Dog. Each dog starts as a static sculpture and then immediately morphs into a realistic dog with hints of its origin, such as leaf-shaped ears and a tail shaped like a crooked twig. The boundaries between imagination and reality are creatively blurred in the pictures, as the realistic dogs each play with Ally, following her faithfully and engaging in seasonal activities. Charming illustrations in a loose, playful style bring the dogs to life, whether they are real or not. An open-ended conclusion shows Ally drawing all her dogs at play and Snow Dog returning with the first snow of the winter, even as the text indicates the other dogs also return. A final, unnecessary page gives directions for making a dog sculpture out of common household items.

Ally is a clever and creative character that kids with similar afflictions will relate to. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7536-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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