Pawsitive vibes all around. (Picture book. 4-8)

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LONE WOLF

A beloved pet questions her place in the world.

Maple, the Parkers’ dog, loves her routines: tug of war with Jax, reading with Avery, and extra-long walks with Mom or Dad. She fits right in as the family’s fifth member. But, out in the neighborhood, people question whether Maple truly belongs. Is she a husky or a wolf? Most say wolf. The Parkers try to convince everyone otherwise, but even Maple begins to have her doubts. She looks like a wolf. She hunts like a wolf. She howls like a wolf and digs like a wolf. Maple’s soul-searching eventually leads her to dart off into a nature preserve near the Parkers’ home. But out in the wild, the ground is tougher and the squirrels are harder to catch. Before too long, Maple misses her pack of humans. Will she make it back in time for her evening walk? Kurpiel’s debut is a tender family story about belonging despite appearances. The cartoon illustrations are packed with small details that enhance the story beyond the text (such as the chewed-up stuffed animals that are Maple’s prey). One especially delightful page turn breaks the frame in multiple places with a hilarious super-close-up. The family presents white, and community members are diverse in skin tone. Avery uses an electric wheelchair. The doggy-filled endpapers also depict a wheelchair-using bull terrier.

Pawsitive vibes all around. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294382-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.

PIG THE TOURIST

From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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