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

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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 buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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