A witty, heartwarming, and interactive tale for canine lovers.


Thanks to a shelter worker’s perseverance, a dog finds a home with a multigenerational family in this picture book.

Shivering in the rain, a stray canine is rescued by a “shelter hero.” After bathing the brown-and-white dog and giving her medicine, the man names her Hope and vows that he “won’t quit” until she gets adopted. Meanwhile, siblings Chip and Kaye are sad to be moving away from their grandmother Nana Faye. Though the kids help Mom and Pop renovate their new house, something is missing. When Nana Faye visits a canine adoption event, she asks for “a loving, fluffy, Faithful friend.” The shelter hero knows the perfect fit. With Hope in tow, Nana Faye visits the grandkids. When she informs them that she and the pooch are moving in, the siblings are pleased. Now, the place feels complete, and “home is sweet” with Hope around. The uplifting tale deftly demonstrates kindness and love for all creatures. Blumberg’s rhymes are clever and animated (“Squirt, spurt, spout! / Pup is drenched / From tail to snout”), making this an excellent read-aloud choice. Andriani’s illustrations are delightful. Readers will love the detailed backdrops, such as a scene depicting numerous humans and dogs at the adoption event. The images mirror story elements, like rainy weather, and show a diverse human cast. The book includes a poem and lyrics and music for “April Showers,” imploring readers to sing along.

A witty, heartwarming, and interactive tale for canine lovers.

Pub Date: April 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9994463-0-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: MB Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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