Quiet and clever, just like Bob

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MY DOG, BOB

A little boy narrates a story about his dog, Bob, who can do amazing things around the house but can’t accomplish standard dog tricks.

Bob is an unassuming sort, just a midsize, white dog with floppy ears and a big nose. His talents, however, are undeniable, as he can cook breakfast, drive the family to work and school, play golf, and help an archaeologist excavate a dinosaur bone. His family accepts all these stellar qualities as normal for Bob. But when the narrator meets a snobbish little girl in the park, her equally snobbish poodle shows off some standard dog tricks that Bob can’t handle, such as fetching a stick and sitting on command. The snooty little girl declares her dog the winner of her self-styled contest and flounces off in search of someone else to impress. Bob apologizes for his shortcomings, the boy gives him a pat, and they head home to get something to eat—homemade pizza made by the talented dog. Though the story is short and understated, its gentle, ironic humor and quiet acceptance of individual strengths sends a powerful message. Not everyone has the same abilities, and sometimes one who is less than successful on the playground may be a star at home in the family constellation. Cartoon-style illustrations in watercolor and oil pencil use simple shapes and uncluttered backgrounds to effectively complement the restrained feeling of the succinct text.

Quiet and clever, just like Bob . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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