A captivating, tender, and enjoyable genre winner for canine lovers.

THE ADVENTURES OF SURF DUDE

THE DOG OF OCHLOCKONEE BAY

A fictional autobiography focuses on a local Panacea, Florida, celebrity: a stray yellow dog who learns to depend on himself and the kindness of one special fan.

Surf Dude introduces himself in Andrews’ opening paragraph in lines that poignantly establish the emotional construct of the narrative’s protagonist: “I’m just your average yellow dog that once was loved, but became a drifter unexpectedly. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, perhaps a place where thunder, shotguns, fireworks, and mean people with cowboy boots don’t exist.” The canine was born in the woods of South Carolina. One fateful day, while his Mama was busy stalking prey, the pup was grabbed and tossed into a pickup truck by Leo, a large man wearing pointy boots. Leo drove home and threw the puppy into the lap of his girlfriend, Jorene. Despite his fear of humans, Leo in particular, the puppy became devoted to Jorene, who named him Honeybun and showered him with affection. Life changed the day Leo attacked Jorene. “I didn’t mean to do what I did,” Honeybun tells readers. “Jorene was my pack, and he was threatening her. I jumped up on the bed and sank my teeth into his forearm, right over his new tattoo.” It was time for Jorene and Honeybun to leave. They headed for the Florida Panhandle, where they spent several happy years in a campground trailer. Then tragedy struck, and Honeybun began his adventures as a loner wandering Surf Road. The articulate novel is based loosely on the real Surf Dude (thought to be a Carolina dog or a Carolina mix), who has inspired his own Facebook page and who still roams around Panacea and its environs, occasionally posing for photographs—if folks keep their distance. Andrews infuses her wily, resourceful pooch with a delightful, realistically canine interpretation of the world. She is a skillful storyteller, and her narrative engagingly mixes light humor, a bit of pathos, and assorted adventures with the compelling tale of Surf Dude’s cautiously evolving friendship with Russ, the older man who feeds him twice a day.

A captivating, tender, and enjoyable genre winner for canine lovers.

Pub Date: July 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947536-09-8

Page Count: 117

Publisher: Turtle Cove Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character.

SPOOKY POOKIE

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

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