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

DEAR MR. ALBERT, …IT’S ME, PRINCE!

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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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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