This gentle, moving lesson in perseverance will touch young readers, especially the dog lovers.

HEY, DOG

A round-headed, bespectacled kid finds a stray dog and does everything to earn the dog’s trust.

Arriving home from school, the narrator discovers a dog crouching in a bush in the backyard. When the dog flees, the narrator puts out water in a Frisbee for it and later provides a quilt and leftover meatballs, hoping the dog will return. Next day, the meatballs are gone, but the dog still hides. Noticing that the skinny, cringing dog has scars and no tags, the thoughtful child asks Mom why anyone would harm a dog, and she “fiercely” replies, “Some people are not as good as dogs.” After more patient conversations with the dog and more Frisbees with food, the protagonist’s efforts are finally rewarded. Referring to the stray as “Dog,” the child tells the story with a tone of urgency yet in a direct, easy-to-follow manner. Compassion for Dog shines through the text, strongly reinforced in the simple illustrations, drawn manually and colored in Photoshop. Nelson is a master at capturing nuance in facial expression and body language, both human and canine. As the unnamed narrator patiently, lovingly cares for Dog, the emotions of both are clear, and readers will cheer Dog’s transition from fear to trust as he gradually emerges from the bush. The protagonist and Mom—no other family members are depicted—both present white.

This gentle, moving lesson in perseverance will touch young readers, especially the dog lovers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-877-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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