A shaggy dog story that’s both funny and disquieting.

A DOG DAY FOR SUSAN

“It’s not fair, Barney,” grouses Spencer to his brown-and-white mutt. “Susan is treated better than me. It’s like…it’s like she’s the human and I’m the dog!”

When Great-Aunt Alice visits Spencer’s family with her indulged Afghan hound, Susan, poor Spencer is aced out of a steak, the last piece of breakfast bacon, and a visit to the zoo, among other indignities. Boy and mutt take the royal creature to an off-leash park, where Barney teaches her how to eat garbage, roll in a mud puddle, play with other dogs, and run loose. Great-Aunt Alice is appalled at her muddy, tangled hound with garbage breath, and they leave in a huff so that both may return to their regular, disciplined lives. Will Susan revert to being a real dog after her brief time of true dogdom, or will she once again be a princess? Readers must decide, though Spencer thinks he knows. Action is strongly portrayed in Arnaldo’s mixed-media drawings, which show personalities, activities, and characters—the dogs are especially well-done. (Spencer and his family are white.) The story is overextended, however, and it raises some questions. Children may wonder whether it’s meant to be humorous when Spencer is deprived of food and Susan of activity. The illustrations convey the humor and fun, while the anecdotes sometimes seem selfish and mean.

A shaggy dog story that’s both funny and disquieting. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77147-144-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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