Roger’s story conveys the subtle and salutary message that material achievement and fame does not necessarily include love...

THE FRENCH FRY KING

A spotted dachshund with an inquiring mind and big ambitions starts his own French-fry stand, and his fries become popular with customized versions around the world.

Though Roger finds fame and fortune with his fantastic fries, he ultimately realizes his life is rather empty and worries that he is esteemed for his fries alone. The whimsical illustrations take on a darker, gray cast as Roger descends into a depressed phase, but then he meets a charming white dog, Charlotte the Corn Cob Queen, who has her own successful food business. The two canine entrepreneurs fall in love and invent a new product to sell, Royal Shepherd’s Pie. Both the story and the illustrations are appealingly fantastical, with tall-tale exaggerations and witty interactions with satisfied customers. The illustrations have a chic, urban flair with a muted palette and some hints at the author/illustrator’s French-Canadian background, such as a few signs in both English and French. A poster of the dogs with their recipe for shepherd’s pie is included on the inside of the book jacket.

Roger’s story conveys the subtle and salutary message that material achievement and fame does not necessarily include love and companionship, and a shared venture may be sweeter than solitary success. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77049-350-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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