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 26, 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. 29, 2018

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From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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