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DEAR MR. ALBERT, …IT’S ME, PRINCE!

A cute canine story that encourages gratitude as well as compassion toward prisoners and the disabled.

In this children’s book, a service dog for veterans finds a new home.

The Ginsburg sisters’ debut was inspired by the Dogs 4 Disabled Veterans partnership with the Martin County Correctional Institute in Florida on “a Train-the-Trainer program called B.A.R.K. (Beacon Among Rescued K9s).” The authors’ dog, Prince, was trained by a prison inmate, Mr. Albert, through this scheme. But due to his Addison’s disease, Prince couldn’t become a full-fledged service dog; instead, he lived in foster homes before being adopted. In 14 letters, Prince updates Mr. Albert on his new life with a human mom and dad, two young sisters, and his “puppy brother,” Bailey. His missives resemble those of an excited kid writing home from camp. But with the text-speak acronyms (like OMG and TBH), he also sounds like a teenage girl—“Love … it! Heehee … LOL.” The word “love” is always accompanied by a heart icon, a rather cutesy affectation. Still, it’s impossible to forget that the narrator is actually a dog: he loves chasing lizards and ends most letters with “Ta-ta for now. Lick, lick, and woof, wooof.” Prince tells Mr. Albert about a visit from the family’s Kentucky cousins, and of phoning to reassure a doggy friend who’s afraid of an impending thunderstorm. He learns to bring his mom her misplaced glasses, and sparks a panic about rabies when he catches Susie the squirrel. There are also some mild scatological incidents that are likely to amuse Captain Underpants fans: “Geez, I really need to go potty. Gotta run” and “I sometimes chase my tail trying to smell my own farts.” The didactic purpose of the book—which features adorable black-and-white images by debut illustrator Jacobson—is clear in its focus on disabilities and volunteerism as well as its vocabulary lessons. Any potentially unfamiliar words are explained in footnotes and helpfully gathered into a glossary. But the definitions are not always straightforward: for example, “Complimentary is an expression used when explaining you liked what someone did.” The authors plan a sequel; a portion of this volume’s proceeds will go to B.A.R.K.

A cute canine story that encourages gratitude as well as compassion toward prisoners and the disabled.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997403-0-9

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Keshare, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2018

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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