MOONDOG

Two children discover hidden sides to their dog and to a lonely neighbor in this atmospheric tale from an author more known for psychologically charged novels. The morning after an early September full moon, Michael and Hazel find a puppy on their porch and a ravaged front yard. Usually so sweet that they dub him “Angel,” the pup proceeds to demolish the kitchen come the next full moon, and then to run away. The children follow Angel’s trail to the spooky house of old Miss Mingle, who turns out to be not the termagant she’s reputed to be, but a friendly lady who offers delicious cookies, plus the news that Angel is her own dog’s offspring, and a “moondog” given to serious behavioral changes every month unless given a certain potion. A friendship develops, and come Halloween (full moon again), the evidently dosed dogs, dressed in capes and fangs, placidly flank Miss Mingle’s door while she dispenses cookies to suddenly eager trick-or-treaters. No, it doesn’t exactly hang together, but Heo’s art—bright colors and broad patterns—reflects the tale’s mysterious tone and interspecies closeness—and many young dog owners will recognize a touch of moondog in their own pets. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-09861-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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