A heartwarming tale indeed.

STUBBY

A TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP

This true story of a stray dog that became a decorated war hero was first published in England to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

The smell of cooking attracts many stray dogs to the soldiers’ training camp, but one particular dog finds one particular soldier, and the two become inseparable. “An odd little dog with a flat face and short legs,” he is dubbed Stubby. Endearingly portrayed with big eyes and a let’s-play expression, Stubby goes off to Europe with his new soldier friend, the unnamed narrator of the story. Stubby marches, holes up in trenches, becomes a guard dog, wears a gas mask, and is injured on the battlefield. Stubby goes home a hero and leads the great victory parade, wagging his hero’s tail in this hero’s tale. Though he has created a darling of a canine protagonist, Foreman doesn’t shy away from the realities of war, vividly depicting villages in ruins, bullets “zipping and whistling around,” injured soldiers, and Stubby himself “covered in mud and blood, his eyes full of pain.” Except for an occasional face in a cheering crowd, all characters are white. While Foreman makes the tale universal, the backmatter fills in specific details: The soldier’s name was Robert Conroy, the training camp was in Connecticut, and the fighting was in France.

A heartwarming tale indeed. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5510-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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