Let this puppy pass.

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THE YEAR OF THE DOG

Daniel the puppy learns when to be brave in this bilingual, Chinese zodiac–inspired parable.

When Papa dog tells Daniel that he must look after his human friend Lin, Daniel eagerly promises to protect her. Having been warned of fantastical creatures they might encounter—the “fiery Phoenix,” the “sly dragon,” and the “ferocious tiger”—Daniel becomes perhaps a little too eager. He barks ferociously at a rooster and then a rat, unnecessarily rousing Lin and prompting warnings from Mama and Papa to be more careful. When Lin actually faces real danger, will Daniel recognize it and still be brave? Will readers be sufficiently invested to care? The text of this formulaic story simultaneously drags and elides: both the Chinese and English prose are stilted and wordy, while essential characters such as Lin remain unappealing and thin. The digital art, perhaps more suited to animated film than a picture book, adds a commercial feeling, providing neither the weight nor the depth already lacking in the story. Ideally, this book would offer a mirror to young readers familiar with the Chinese zodiac and a window to those who are not. Lin is ethnically ambiguous, with light brown eyes and dark hair, and the book forgoes any context, including only a brief description of characteristics associated with people born in the Year of the Dog. This edition has been updated with the inclusion of a translation into simplified Chinese.

Let this puppy pass. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59702-136-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed...

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER

From the Turkey Trouble series

The fourth entry in the Turkey Trouble series finds Turkey and his animal friends attending a children’s Easter egg hunt at a park next to Turkey’s farm.

Turkey and his pals want to win an “eggstraspecial” prize at the egg hunt, but the event is only for children—not animals. So the group of animal friends decides to attend the egg hunt in disguise and treat their adventure as a “secret mission.” Their disguises include dark glasses and costumes suggesting a rabbit, a bee, and a bunch of daffodils, but each attempt to participate in the egg hunt is rebuffed by the human attendees. The animals work together to create a large, egg-shaped costume for Turkey from a wicker basket, and Turkey and the boy who finds him in egg mode both win special prizes. Turkey shares his prize of a huge, jelly-bean–topped pizza with all his animal buddies. The mildly humorous story has funny animal characters, inventive action, and lots of puns incorporating “egg” into other words. Cartoon-style watercolor-and-pencil illustrations add to the humor with amusing animal expressions and the ongoing series theme of silly costumes. Several of the children at the egg hunt are children of color; the other human characters present white.

Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed series. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4037-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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