A cheery, creative look at celebrating being different from the crowd.


In a copy-cat world where all dogs look the same, one dachshund finds her own identity and learns to love being different.

A bouncy, rhyming text presents a city with rows and rows of identical dachshunds driving on busy roads or engaging in activities such as swimming, sailing, and camping. Each group of dogs is dressed identically, with the members of each set lined up in robotic, expressionless fashion. One female dog, however, dances to a different drummer. She wears a colorful cap and a rainbow-hued scarf, and she listens to her own music playing on headphones. She feels she doesn’t fit in anywhere, so she leaves home to find a new life. She lands in Doggywood, where she does fit in, as many other dogs there look just like her. She meets another outlier, dressed in a black cap and Nordic sweater, who’s “whistling a different tune.” That dog causes her to be proud of her outsider status, and the unnamed heroine returns to her original town, where she has been missed. Her return sparks an outbreak of individuality, with all the dachshunds making a group decision to dress in wildly different attire. While the sudden transformation from boring conformity to intriguing originality is a bit abrupt, the story successfully introduces the idea that just one individual may effect a change in a larger group. Graphically striking, patterned illustrations use vibrant colors and a wide variety of perspectives and page formats to keep visual interest high.

A cheery, creative look at celebrating being different from the crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-236726-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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