A clearly entertaining read-aloud or read-alone for dog lovers.

MCTAVISH GOES WILD

From the McTavish Stories series , Vol. 2

McTavish returns to save the Peachey family from themselves, living up to his description as a “rescue” dog.

In series opener Good Dog, McTavish (2018), the sandy-colored terrier brought a family back from the brink of disaster with sheer cleverness and good humor. In this second title, the role-reversal plot of the new dog training the family continues into summer vacation, as the Peacheys head to the Faraway Campsite. Ma Peachey is excited to head to the idyllic mountains, with flowering fields and a flowing river. But Pa Peachey sees ridiculous danger in the wilderness. Brother Ollie prefers a disco where he can meet girls. And Ava only wants to read German philosophers. Once again, young Betty, the most sensible of the bunch, is ignored by the complaining Peacheys, too selfish to notice the beauty around them. The grumpy family, depicted by Easton with dark hair, fair skin, and pointy noses, decides to pack up and return home—but where is McTavish? A game of hide-and-seek ensues, with the plucky pup staying just out of reach. McTavish is not leading them astray—he is providing them a perfect day experiencing the outdoors. This series has legs to stand on, with clean writing, grayscale illustrations that gently move the action forward, and lovable yet flawed characters needing redemption. Fans will be panting for more.

A clearly entertaining read-aloud or read-alone for dog lovers. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0331-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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