An unfocused effort overall, both in illustration quality and in plot development.

READ REVIEW

LOLA AND TATTLETALE ZEKE

From the Lola series

A tiny Yorkshire terrier named Lola narrates her third entry in a series, this time focusing on a new addition to the family, her fellow Yorkie named Zeke.

The story is told in first person by Lola, although the identity of the narrator is not clearly specified. She calls Zeke her little brother even though Zeke is larger in size, a point of potential confusion for the audience despite her explanation. The plot recounts multiple incidents of misbehavior by Lola, such as leaving muddy paw prints on the floor or lying about brushing her teeth. Zeke repeatedly tattles on Lola to an unnamed authority, presumably the dogs’ owner. Zeke then unintentionally causes some minor trouble—spilling a water dish, ripping the arm of the teddy bear—and the family cat then tattles on him. Lola comforts him, and then Zeke refrains from tattling, concluding sagely that accidents will happen. The premise falls flat, as exactly how Zeke and the cat actually communicate with their owner is unclear, and the concept of one pet “telling” on another is never fully explained. The quality of the photographic illustrations is inconsistent, with some photos of the dogs rather blurry and several shots with one dog’s face turned away. The photographs don’t really capture either the dogs’ personalities or a convincing relationship between the pair. The book concludes with a curriculum guide offering discussion questions and activities that relate to the story.

An unfocused effort overall, both in illustration quality and in plot development. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939547-16-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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