Not garbage—but not exactly cordon bleu, either


An abandoned street dog with a compassionate streak beats the odds.

Showing little apparent interest in either laying out a logically constructed storyline or keeping to a consistent metrical framework, Wilkinson relates in verse the title character’s adventures. This stray always has a few crumbs to share with the resident mice, but he is ejected from his alley by a larger dog and a cat. During his flight he does several good deeds for other creatures before he is rescued by loving hands (“He is put in a cage and feels a bit scared, / But the woman is kind and speaks like she cares”). This occurs just before an abrupt ending that dissolves into incoherence: “Each Sunday at noon as food’s being grilled / Baked or boiled and all bellies filled, / Smells float from the kitchen and into his nose / His family call out, ‘It’s dinner time soon!’ ” Kalorkoti populates her modernist urban scenes with unlikely (or, perhaps, not) numbers of sinuously drawn dogs, cats, rats, mice, and even foxes amid noxious-looking puddles and scattered litter. Though she neglects to tackle a few challenges, such as showing exactly how the kindly canine carries a mouse trapped in a milk bottle in the middle of a busy street to safety, she does load the skinny, black, flop-eared terrier up with visual appeal…and leaves him at the close lovingly opening the kitchen door to admit a horde of four-legged friends and erstwhile foes. With a lot of work this could be read as a broad “cast your bread upon the waters” sort of allegory, but more effective, and more tightly woven, appeals to sentiment about the plight of abandoned animals abound, such as Marc Simont’s The Stray Dog (2001) or Tony Johnston and Jonathan Nelson’s tender Hey Dog (2019).

Not garbage—but not exactly cordon bleu, either . (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-89955-832-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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. 28, 2018

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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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