A heartwarming tale indeed.

READ REVIEW

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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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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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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