Fred has certainly matured since his first outing. Readers may have mixed feelings about a third, though.


The untrained, exuberant dog and his patient child owner from I Will Love You Anyway (2016) are back, this time exploring the meaning of a name.

The puglike dog with the huge eyes, sweat bands, and tendency to run away has earned a ribbon from his dog obedience class. The pup now responds appropriately to “Fetch,” “Sit,” and “Stay” and knows “Ball,” “Walk,” “Park,” and “Bed.” But the meaning of the word “Fred” eludes him, the adorable tilt of his head conveying his confusion. Eager to please, the dog just wants to know how to “Fred” so he’ll earn a “Good Boy!” Maybe the dog upstairs (his reflection in a mirror) knows? What about the dog he spies in the water while chasing ducks in the park? Trying to play with that pup leads him to trouble. Luckily, his child comes to his rescue, snuggling the dog close and whispering his name. “A light goes on inside my head!” Fred’s his name, and he can now Fred with the best of them. A cozy ending celebrates the love between dog and child. While Mick Inkpen’s rhymes sometime belabor the point and nearly overstay their welcome, Chloë Inkpen’s illustrations against white backgrounds give readers a view from the dog’s perspective, and his expressions and body language convey much. Fred’s child, the only human in the book, presents white.

Fred has certainly matured since his first outing. Readers may have mixed feelings about a third, though. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1475-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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