Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to...

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I LOVE DOGS!

A little boy travels around a bustling, big-city park observing dogs of many varieties before finally acquiring a dog of his own.

The title page introduces the boy who narrates the story, showing him gazing up at a red sign that orders, “Adopt a dog today!” As the boy wanders through the huge park, he follows multiple identical signs that point the way to a canine adoption center. The short, humorous text describes a diverse canine population through descriptive rhyming pairs, such as “nosy dogs, / cozy dogs” and “naughty dogs, / haughty dogs.” Stylized, computer-generated illustrations capture the antics of the happily romping canines and the eccentricities of their various owners. The main character is sometimes cleverly concealed within the illustrations of the busy park scenes, but he can always be spotted by his tuft of red hair and striped shirt. The illustrations carefully match the descriptions of the dogs, whether spotty, dotty, wrinkly or crinkly, and the bold, jazzy style perks up a story that isn’t particularly original. As always, Staake depicts skin tones of just about every color, including blue, lavender and green; the protagonist has very light brown skin.

Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to read on their own. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-117057-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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