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 with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.3% of actual size.)

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

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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