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GARBAGE DOG

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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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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THE COOL BEAN MAKES A SPLASH

From the I Can Read! series

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind.

The cool beans again step up to do a timorous fellow legume a fava…this time at the pool.

Will a rash decision to tackle the multistory super-slide lead to another embarrassing watery fail for our shy protagonist? Nope, for up the stairs right behind comes a trio of cool beans, each a different type and color, all clad in nothing but dark shades. They make an offer: “It’s not as scary if you go with friends!” As the knobby nerd explains once the thrilling ride down is done, “They all realized that I just needed some encouragement and support.” Just to make sure that both cool and uncool readers get the message, the narrator lets us know that “there are plenty of kind folks who have my back. They’re always there when I need them.” The beany bonhomie doesn’t end at the bottom of the slide, with all gliding down to the shallow end of the pool (“3 INCHES. NO DIVING”) for a splashy finale. This latest early reader starring characters from John and Oswald’s immensely popular Food Group series will be a hit with fans. Fun accessories, such as a bean who rocks pink cat-eye frames, add some pizzazz to the chromatically and somatotypically varied cast.

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780063329560

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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