Young independent readers’ hearts will go out to the rescue dog in this engaging tale.

THE LIFE OF GUS

THE DOG WITH THE BIG HEAD

Based on a true story, this debut chapter book tells one abandoned pooch’s story through his own eyes.

Gus wasn’t always a stray dog. When he was young, his name was Rex, and he loved his human, Timmy, very much. But things started to change for Rex when Timmy went to school and didn’t have time for the canine he once loved. After escaping the backyard to follow Timmy to a friend’s house, Rex was punished. Timmy knotted shoelaces together and tied Rex to a tree, abandoning the dog, first by ignoring him and then neglecting to feed him during the cold winter months. When his family moved, Timmy left Rex tied to the tree. Rex eventually broke free and became a street dog, desperately lonely until he met fellow stray Trixie. The two wished they could trust humans, but further cruelty—some boys fired a pellet gun at Rex—caused them to hide. Unfortunately, Rex’s health was failing; the shoelace still tied around his neck was making him sicker. He discovered it was hard to breathe and swallow. Luckily, kind strangers took him in, healed him, and made him a TV and internet star. Now named Gus, he and Trixie wait for their forever homes. In her simply worded, dog’s-eye-view narration, Roquemore-Maxwell doesn’t pull any punches when describing the brutality of humans. But the canine’s harsh reality is made bearable through his hopeful, loving worldview. His rescuers also bring light into the darkness that stray dogs face, and the author’s absorbing and moving story may inspire young readers to become motivated and tackle these problems. The images by debut illustrator Bordelon are sparsely spread throughout. They are more successful on the color cover than in the black-and-white linework, as the cartoonish style doesn’t match the seriousness of the content.

Young independent readers’ hearts will go out to the rescue dog in this engaging tale.

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7419-0

Page Count: 43

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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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