The conclusion kids might draw? Going to school isn’t nearly as bad as being a dog.

DOG DAYS OF SCHOOL

“Be careful what you wish for” is just one of the messages in this humorous book about switching places.

Charlie is tired of school and all the letter practice and picture drawing. His dog, Norman, doesn’t have to go to school. Charlie wishes on a star to be a dog, and the next morning, he and Norman have switched places. While the dog rushes off to school to enjoy writing, playing kickball and making clay sculptures, Charlie lies back, relishing the opportunity to get some extra sleep and watch the leaves fall. But as the week goes on, both Norman and Charlie begin to see the drawbacks of the new arrangement. Norman gets in trouble for his chewing habit and must listen to a story about cats. Charlie drinks out of the toilet and gets locked outside in the cold. One wish-upon-a-star later, Charlie couldn’t be happier to wake up in his own bed and be going back to school. Biggs’ illustrations, done in a bright palette of aqua, olive, purple, mustard, red and orange, are hysterical, as the two swap places but not bodies: The boy acts like a dog and vice versa. And while the people’s faces manage to convey emotion with just a tiny mouth and dot eyes, Norman’s droll expression never changes, adding to the farcical nature of the tale.

The conclusion kids might draw? Going to school isn’t nearly as bad as being a dog. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7868-5493-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

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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