In the end, though, a pretty naked appeal to sentiment more than a story.

SAD, THE DOG

Mr. and Mrs. Cripps are old and mean and do not want the dog a friend gave them for Christmas.

They wash the dog and feed him, but they never give him a name. They yell when the dog does normal puppy things like digging in the garden and yapping happily. Then one day the Cripps take all their things and move away, leaving the dog, who has named himself “Sad.” The dog is only alone overnight, however, because the next morning a new family moves in, and a boy named Jack does all the right things: careful approach, fresh water, doggie biscuits, soft bed. The dog gets a better name (Lucky), and much joy ensues. The watercolor pictures are done in soft colors and whimsical line. Sad is a black-and-white bull terrier–ish dog, and the human figures have oversized heads and skinny, rubbery bodies; birds, flowers, and autumn leaves make the landscape. The story neatly skirts the issue of animal abandonment and abuse (while Sad is abandoned, it is only for a day, and the Cripps do care for him, in their fashion). Younger children may also relate to Sad the dog’s being yelled at for activities that are perfectly natural to him.

In the end, though, a pretty naked appeal to sentiment more than a story. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7826-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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