Totally ebullient.



An irrepressible dog can’t resist falling into the same type of mischief over and over again, until something surprising changes his pattern.

This small, wiggly pup bounces upward as a silhouetted woman enters the animal shelter. He longs for a home “warm as soup / and cozy as pie,” full of nose kisses and tummy rubs. And oh, how exciting—the woman takes him home! “That very day, / Shoe Dog chewed through / five high heels, / four flip-flops, / three sneakers, / two boots, / one wing tip.” Scolding—“ ‘BAD DOG!’ / She, Herself said”—and punishment—no petting or access to the Big Bed—see him lying forlornly in a gray-blue space, subdued. But each time new shoes arrive, he tracks down and rips into the fresh box, chomping every shoe with gusto. Consequences ratchet up mildly, but Shoe Dog never learns impulse control as such; instead, unexpectedly, he meets a shoe he’d never, ever chew. Finally he’s welcome “on the Big Bed / in the Land of Upstairs,” curling up blissfully with his new shoe-love. Tillotson uses thick black lines for Shoe Dog’s scribbly, coiled-spring body, smudging charcoal inside his shape to give him substance; scraps of pink and beige mark his pointy ears and muzzle. Motion lines show how he scampers and bounds. The visual angle varies, and shoe-box tissue paper flies through the air.

Totally ebullient. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7932-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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