Jarvis’ tale will inspire listeners to laugh...and ask for an octopuppy.

THE OCTOPUPPY

When is a dog not a dog? When he’s an octopuppy.

“Edgar wanted a dog. / But Edgar didn’t get a dog. He got Jarvis.” Edgar’s strange new pet can’t do any of the cool things a dog does. Jarvis has eight wiggly arms and is no good on walks. Acknowledging that Jarvis is clever, however, Edgar thinks, upon seeing a poster for a dog show, that with a little training, Jarvis might be able to do what show dogs do. When he commands “lie down,” Jarvis puts on a night cap and jammies and snuggles up with a teddy bear. When Edgar commands “play dead,” Jarvis dons a mummy’s bandages and moans atmospherically. He’s almost a total failure…but Jarvis does learn to sit. The spectacularly talented Jarvis is, unfortunately, a disaster at the dog show, angering and embarrassing Edgar. It is only after Jarvis leaves (leaving a note apologizing for being a bad dog) that Edgar realizes what a great pet he had. British illustrator McKenna’s first U.S. release is an excellent, absurd addition to the I-want-a-pet genre. His digitally created art, dotted with wacky detail and visual gags, effectively milks the situation for maximum looniness, absolutely going to town with the body-language possibilities offered by eight arms.

Jarvis’ tale will inspire listeners to laugh...and ask for an octopuppy. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-75140-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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