New readers will dig this.

SEE ME DIG

From the I Like To Read series

In this gem of an early reader, a cast of cavorting canines find more than they expected when they start digging—namely a scary bear, buried treasure, pirate ghosts and heavy construction equipment.

Meisel follows his first title in this series (See Me Run, 2011) by using the same dog characters and limited first-grade-level vocabulary for kids just beginning to read on their own. This time, the endearing dogs dig up a huge box buried in the sand after the bear chases them away from the forest. In a surprise twist that will tickle young readers, the enormous chest contains not gold coins, but the ghosts of pirates who chase after the dogs until one brave pup stands up to the ghosts with a big bark. But there’s another danger looming: the clawlike tines on the bucket of a tracked excavator appear to threaten the dogs, until excavator and dogs find that they can all dig in the sand together, side by side. Using just a few words and extremely short sentences, Meisel delivers a funny story with a real plot containing several surprises. His cartoon-style illustrations in watercolor with pen-and-ink and pencil details capture the canine personalities and create deliciously spooky (but not really scary) villains in the pirate ghosts.

New readers will dig this. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2743-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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