Empathy for others is currently a hot topic, skillfully and humorously explored here with a candid look at the feelings and...

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LET'S HAVE A DOG PARTY

Kate and her friends throw a wild, loud birthday party for her dog, Frank, a calm canine who prefers peace and quiet.

Frank loves nothing better than sleeping in his special spot, on the rug in the warm sunlight streaming in the window. One day he is shocked by Kate and her four energetic friends, who seem to be playing at putting on a surprise birthday party (unsupervised by any adults). The raucous kids all talk loudly, tie balloons and bows onto the uncooperative dog, wrap up his bed and bowl as presents, and toss confetti with abandon as they chase the poor pooch. Frank runs away and hides in a closet until Kate comes to her senses and sends the other children home. She makes Frank a dogfood birthday cake, and, in a satisfying conclusion, the pair curl up for a nap in the dog’s favorite spot in the sunshine. Kids will get a kick out of the marauding, almost grotesque party participants, who are all illustrated with their mouths wide open (revealing tongues and uvulas) as they yell and sing for the overwhelmed dog, with large display type illustrating their increasingly louder words. The multimedia illustrations cleverly capture both the untamed atmosphere of the cavorting kids and the bewildered, overwhelmed dog. Kate has light skin and red hair; three of the other children have brown skin and black hair.

Empathy for others is currently a hot topic, skillfully and humorously explored here with a candid look at the feelings and preferences of someone without a voice. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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