An exuberant dog’s-eye view of friendship and forgiveness.

BEST DAY EVER!

An energetic puppy narrates a day with her boy.

In the morning, she licks the face of her “best friend,” a boy with light brown skin who uses a manual wheelchair, “glad that [they’re] a pair.” In quick, rhythmic rhymes, she bounds along—chasing a cat, stealing a Frisbee, snatching a hot dog from disgruntled pigeons, and scaring a snake—to the titular refrain: “Best day ever!” But the tune changes when she rolls on a “nice dead fish.” “Down, girl! You get off me! / Phewy, what’s that smell?” yells her boy as she gazes up with heart-meltingly mournful eyes. “Not the best day ever,” she laments as she endures a sudsy bath. And when she accidentally knocks over a lamp, her boy’s exasperation is finally too much: “Worst day ever.” Soon, however, the boy comforts the dejected pup, apologizing for shouting: “I know it wasn’t cool. / I think we need more lessons. / We’ll go to training school.” The friendship restored, a huge, jubilant “Best day ever!” arcs across a sunset-tinged double-page spread, the exclamation point finished off with a tennis ball the narrator has leapt to catch. Illustrator Nixon, herself a wheelchair user, captures the bond between boy and dog with bold lines, bright, sun-laced colors, and endearing expressions, tenderly demonstrating that love is unconditional—a message that will reassure readers as well as their furry friends. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An exuberant dog’s-eye view of friendship and forgiveness. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-98783-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

ROBOT, GO BOT!

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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