A clever, winning read-aloud for modern families.

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CAT DOG DOG

THE STORY OF A BLENDED FAMILY

A couple moves in together. But can their pets handle the big change?

A scruffy white dog lives alone with her human father. She loves her toys, her royal dog bed, and lying at her dad’s feet at night. Elsewhere, a large houndlike dog and an orange tabby live together with their mother. The dog loves playing. The cat doesn’t seem to love anything—except, perhaps, sleeping in the dog’s bed. A moving van unites the two families under one roof, forcing the new pet stepsiblings to get to know one another. Faces are swatted. Clothing is eaten. Things just aren’t as comfy as they used to be. Gradually, the pets start to warm up to one another—that is, until the family adds yet another member to the mix. Buchet’s debut picture book primarily uses the two titular nouns—cat and dog—in various patterns (“Dog Cat” or “Dog Cat Dog”). The minimalist text relies on Zuill’s expressive, funny cartoon illustrations to fill in necessary context. The words and pictures harmonize as pace, rhythm, and layout work together to clearly depict poignant moments of isolation, tension, and togetherness. New words added into the rhythm, such as “Frog” when the animals stare down an amphibian, create laugh-out-loud silliness. The humans, one white-presenting and the other brown-skinned, diversify this beautiful, blended family.

A clever, winning read-aloud for modern families. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4899-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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