Just doggone blah.

READ REVIEW

DOGS, DOGS!

There's neither bark nor bite to be found in this brief ode to a toddler favorite.

Uninspired rhymes describe individual dogs' physical appearance (shaggy, little, etc.) or their character (including stubborn, lazy or sad). Awkward phrases are expressed with a forced exuberance, unlikely to inspire any potential canine enthusiasts. “Big dog, big dog, what a giant you are. / You're almost as big as a little car!” A husky bulldog receives a portrayal that's more stereotypical than original: “Fat dog, fat dog, just look at you eat / I think you've had too many treats!” Each puppy boldly dominates its page, while visual elements (such as a bone) extend to the facing page, where the text is placed. The conclusion places a mirror in the center of a facial outline; the gushing voice encourages youngsters to imagine their similarities to the pups. Static expressions keep motions frozen in time. The uniform textual layout fails to provide enough variety to capture young children's interest, but some examples cast a knowing wink to adult pet-owners, who may recall familiar experiences (as when the hound trembles when the vacuum cleaner approaches). The feline companion (Cats! Cats!) receives the same trite treatment.

Just doggone blah. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61067-041-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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A fun but inessential novelty, as much toy as book.

YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE

A familiar song repackaged as a board book doubles as a finger puppet.

Many a caregiver has sung this refrain to a newborn or toddler, ignoring the decidedly sad lyrics of the original. Magsamen lays claim and sweetens it up. She uses only the chorus and changes the last line to “I’ll give you lots of hugs… / and kisses every day” instead of the expected “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” Her cheery artwork, reminiscent of applique, recalls the song’s country-music roots and is anything but sad. The pages are decorated with hearts and cuddly-looking caregiver-child animal pairs—foxes, skunks with sunny yellow umbrellas, bunnies, raccoons, and squirrels. The thick, heart-shaped pages include a circular die-cut hole through which readers might poke the smiling felt sun puppet attached to the back cover. A finger inserted from the back makes the sun wiggle and will capture even the youngest baby’s attention. The puppet feature does not obstruct the initial page turns, but when a toddler says, “Do it again” (as they doubtless will), quickly re-positioning the finger puppet is somewhat challenging.

A fun but inessential novelty, as much toy as book. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-30576-0

Page Count: 6

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Sure to prompt little fingers into joyful action.

TICKLE TIME!

A favorite baby-and-toddler activity receives an upbeat celebration that will get those fingers going. Watch out!

The gang of frazzled felines that populate this outing are truly the cat's meow. Based on Boynton's song of the same title, the text is reproduced in a colored, patterned font that amps the energy right up. A forlorn little kitty, paws clasped in front of his body, appears anxious (though slightly intrigued) when a trio of toms encourages him to join in the fun. “Gitchy-gitchy / Goo Gotta / Ready, Set, Go!” It doesn't take long before the cautious cat jumps in on this chorus line with dramatic leaps and fluttering fingers. A little birdie acts as a square-dance caller, enunciating each beat (“Goo bop. / Gitchy-goo bop”). The shaggy, large-nosed felines are tremendously expressive in their synchronized movements and maintain a rollicking pace. “We can tickle high. / We can tickle low. / We can tickle QUICKQUICKQUICK / as fast as we can go!” (Here, the page is filled with iterations of "gitchy gitchy gitchy" in different colors.) At the end, the gang sprawls on the floor, exhausted, after a truly monumental tickle-fest.

Sure to prompt little fingers into joyful action. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-6883-6

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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