Jarvis’ tale will inspire listeners to laugh...and ask for an 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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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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