A lighthearted introduction to service dogs and their grateful partners.

HARLEY THE HERO

Harley has a special job at school—he helps Ms. Prichard feel safe.

Her students know that even though they can’t play with him while he’s wearing his service-dog vest, he can still lick their feet if they let him. Little Amelia, who often wears hearing-protection earmuffs, loves Harley, but she doesn’t want him near her feet. Just as Harley keeps Ms. Prichard safe, Amelia’s friend, the narrator, keeps her safe. He knows that “loud noises, weird smells, or too-close things” might upset her, so he’s extra vigilant. When there’s a fire one day, the students run to the door—everyone but Amelia. Her friend alerts Ms. Prichard. Harley tugs her too, and together they get Amelia outside. Harley’s a hero! Collins’ tale of neurodiversity, based on a true story, is really about Harley’s job as a service dog—from the title and front endpapers to the ending. The charming and likable toe-licking Harley eclipses the subtle mentions of neurodivergence—what it is and why it’s important to “normalize” it, as the flap copy states. The illustrations are inclusive, from the progress pride flag flying over the school under the Canadian maple leaf to the diverse classroom, which includes a child who uses a wheelchair. (The narrator and Ms. Prichard present White, and Amelia presents Asian.) However, the lack of information about neurodivergence may hinder the intended message.

A lighthearted introduction to service dogs and their grateful partners. (author's note, biographical note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77278-195-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 36

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more