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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character.


One of Boynton's signature characters celebrates Halloween.

It's Halloween time, and Pookie the pig is delighted. Mom helps the little porker pick out the perfect Halloween costume, a process that spans the entire board book. Using an abcb rhyme scheme, Boynton dresses Pookie in a series of cheerful costumes, including a dragon, a bunny, and even a caped superhero. Pookie eventually settles on the holiday classic, a ghost, by way of a bedsheet. Boynton sprinkles in amusing asides to her stanzas as Pookie offers costume commentary ("It's itchy"; "It's hot"; "I feel silly"). Little readers will enjoy the notion of transforming themselves with their own Halloween costumes while reading this book, and a few parents may get some ideas as well. Boynton's clean, sharp illustrations are as good as ever. This is Pookie's first holiday title, but readers will surely welcome more.

A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51233-5

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Robin Corey/Random

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller



A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?