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

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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Hee haw.

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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