A Valentine to dogs, though the message is mixed.

I WILL LOVE YOU ANYWAY

Even naughty dogs who can’t behave need someone to love them.

A small, squat dog with bug eyes and short legs with red-and-white striped sweat bands above the paws just cannot seem to do what’s right. The dog licks, bites, nips, paws, scratches, digs, messes, and steals—and that’s just on the first page of text. One of the pup’s worst habits is running away, which it does constantly, especially after it hears the grown-ups of the family (never seen) discussing how it’ll have to go. This time, though, the dog can’t find its way back, and it’s thundering. But its owner, a redheaded, bespectacled, white little child, finds it, and the adults change their tune about keeping their child’s beloved pet. But in a confusing ending to what has been a first-person account from the dog’s perspective, the text reads, “I don’t do words. / They make no sense. / I jump for joy… // …and jump the fence.” So, the dog, which obviously has learned nothing about running away, is saying it doesn’t understand anyone’s words, even though it specifically reacted to the grown-ups’ threats and it’s told the whole tale in (not bad, though repetitious) rhyme? The illustrations make clear the dog’s exuberance and sheer dog-ness, and its owner obviously loves it (except when the pooch rolls in poo).

A Valentine to dogs, though the message is mixed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-444-92456-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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