A clever, winning read-aloud for modern families.

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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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