Got the message? Who wouldn’t love a school helper or pet like Arfy?


Meet Arfy, a worker dog with paw-pose.

Arfy’s “job” is helping students gain confidence as they read to the canine in the school library. One day, Arfy discovers a turtle inside their helper-dog-vest’s pocket. Arfy aims to track down the owners of the reptile, dubbed “Hidey.” To accomplish this goal, Arfy sends chatty emails and illustrated written queries (Arfy grips a pencil between their teeth to accomplish this), signed with paw prints, to various school personnel, including the principal, cafeteria staff, gym coach, and art teacher. They reply, also through electronic or written means, until the satisfying resolution is reached: Hidey’s owners are found—an event foreshadowed by sly references to a particular teacher. A buzzy Zoom conference convenes, and Arfy sends Hidey a farewell note. This delightful epistolary tale will captivate readers with good-natured humor and references to tech devices. Other pluses include modeling how to write a letter: Communiques throughout contain examples of courteous written discourse as well as correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation (admittedly, more appealing to adults than youngsters). Additionally, various messages offer valuable pointers on the proper, safe handling of turtles. The illustrations are cheery and charming, as is Arfy’s wide-eyed expressiveness. School staff and students are racially diverse; one child uses a wheelchair. Note the comical illustrated twist at book’s end. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Got the message? Who wouldn’t love a school helper or pet like Arfy? (websites on cat and dog adoption) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43216-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Hee haw.

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.


From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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