A mild tale of tails with important lessons about self-acceptance.




Gillaspy’s (Fly Like an Eagle, 2011) first picture book is a story of loss and acceptance as experienced by a dog who lost her long, waggy tail.

Piko’s life is good, and her perks (loving humans, toys, a dachshund friend, etc.) are shown in Underkoffler’s dog’s-eye-view illustrations rather than told. But despite all this doggy goodness, Piko is sad because she “lost” her tail as a puppy, and the other dogs call her ugly. Deciding to seek her tail so she “can be happy and beautiful,” she asks Bee for help. Bee directs her to Owl, and Owl sends Piko to Squirrel, warning that Squirrel is a trickster. Piko chases Squirrel, thinking Squirrel has stolen her tail, but she’s mistaken. Squirrel directs Piko to a mountain-dwelling creature who steals tails from other animals. After an arduous, scary journey, Piko spots the apparent thief and chases it. The bear cub—for that’s what it is—runs for its mother, who roars at Piko. Piko explains her mission, and Mama Bear laughs and tells Piko never to believe squirrels. But she also tells Piko that she’s “the bravest dog I ever met.” The bears turn to leave, and Piko notices (why didn’t she see when she was chasing the cub?) that they don’t have long, waggy tails, but short, beautiful tails that “look just like Piko [sic].” Piko returns home to her humans, feeling proud, brave, happy and beautiful, and she roars like a bear at any dog that makes fun of her. The illustrations provide a strong sense of the settings through which Piko moves, and the text styling—which has a hand-lettered look—adapts to show emphasis and, when Squirrel compares Squirrel’s tail with Piko’s, to show the various tail attributes Squirrel names. It’s too bad Piko is so focused on beauty and that her new way of dealing with teasing involves acting like a bear rather than finding a doggy solution. Nevertheless, it’s possible that this story could serve as an “Ugly Duckling” variation for children, suggesting to them that there are others who share their loss and that the answer lies not in replacing what is lost, but in finding beauty in their current states.

A mild tale of tails with important lessons about self-acceptance.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1592989430

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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