A very funny shaggy dog story.

HOW I TRAINED MY DOG IN 10 DAYS

A boy promises to show readers how he trained his dog in 10 days—but Scamp seems to have his own plans.

A young boy with brown skin and a fluffy black Afro begins the first day of his dog-training journey by showing the gray, shaggy mutt his doghouse. He tells the dog that while he is permitted to venture into the backyard, “you have to stay out of the flower bed, and you absolutely cannot go into the house.” The illustration shows Scamp on his haunches in the flower bed next to a pictorial no-dogs sign. In the next double-page spread, labeled “Day 2” in a childlike scrawl, Scamp stands in the kitchen, wagging his tail, with muddy paws and uprooted flowers in his mouth. The boy goes easy on Scamp and tells him that while he is now allowed “to help in the garden” and to enter the family room, “you are not allowed to play my video games.” The following double-page spread depicts Scamp doing exactly that, and a hilarious cumulative tale ensues. Kids will pick up and recite the repeating lines easily, and they will enjoy Scamp’s antics and the surprise ending, which reveals Scamp’s keen insight into human psychology. There are several very funny illustrations that will get lots of laughs, including one in which Scamp takes a bath while wearing a shower cap.

A very funny shaggy dog story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4413-3264-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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