MADAME MARTINE

Adopting a stray dog inspires a routine-bound woman to take a new view of the world.

Madame Martine follows a strict schedule: Each day she takes the same walk wearing the same coat, shopping at the same stores. And even though she lives near the Eiffel Tower, she’s never climbed it. “Eh. It’s a tourist thing,” says Martine. One day she discovers a wet, dirty dog in a bush, and after determining he’s a stray, she takes him home. She gives him a bath and names him Max, and he promptly falls contentedly asleep on her bed. Then one Saturday, on their routine walk near the tower, a squirrel dashes by, and Max takes chase, pulling the leash from Martine’s hand. Max continues running but heads up the stairs of the tower, forcing Martine to hastily buy a ticket to catch him. Vertiginous views of the tower’s skeleton emphasize its height. When they reach the second level, Max slips into the elevator, and Martine follows. The doors open at the top to a spectacular two-page spread of Paris at twilight, with Martine and Max in the foreground. After that, Martine and Max resume their daily routines but with a twist: They always try something new on Saturday. The exquisitely rendered watercolor illustrations are full of charm and expression, becoming more colorful and saturated as Martine’s heart gets fuller.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4905-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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