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From the Pets Rule! series , Vol. 2

Wacky capers and plenty of humor.

A would-be overlord Chihuahua meets his poodle nemesis.

One week into his new home life with the Chins, Ember wakes up next to Lucy Chin, his “favorite human.” But the peace is interrupted as everyone prepares for the arrival of Lucy’s Poh Poh and her poodle, Fluffy. The other Chin household pets—BeBe the beetle, Neo the canary, and Smelly Steve the hamster—warn that Fluffy is “PURE EVIL.” With nefarious schemes like turning on the dreaded dryer and catchphrases like “YOUR DOOM IS HERE!” villainous Fluffy initially inspires Ember, a “fan of evil.” But when Ember and friends catch a glimpse of Fluffy’s “DOOMSDAY DEVICE,” things get serious (though the humans just think that the pets are playing). Can they stop Fluffy before it’s too late? Much like its predecessor, My Kingdom of Darkness (2022), this early chapter book delivers hijinks and hilarity from a pup’s first-person point of view. Wei’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations up the ante with expressive, entertaining visuals. A refreshing reversal of traditional gender roles sees elder brother Kevin wanting to be a baker and Lucy, a scientist. The Chin family is cued Chinese. Lucy’s classmate Arjun is brown-skinned and appears to have two dads (one brown-skinned, one White-presenting). The cliffhanger ending promises more dastardly deeds to come.

Wacky capers and plenty of humor. (questions & activities) (Humor. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75636-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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