A clever story somewhat brought down by Olive’s mismatched ages between text and illustrations.

GEORGE THE HERO HOUND

A hound dog named George helps the new owners of a farm as they adjust to life in the country.

When Farmer Fritz retires and moves away, his dog is left behind to help the new owners when they arrive from the city. The Gladstone family of four includes the parents and two children, a boy named Owen and his sister, Olive. Owen appears to be about 8 or 9, and Olive looks 3 or 4 She is described in the text as Owen’s “baby sister,” who is just saying her first word, but those indications do not match her age as shown in the illustrations. Farmer Fritz is white; the Gladstones all have dark hair and pale skin. George assists the new owners with tractor maintenance and herding cows, but he becomes a hero when he uses his scent-tracking ability to find the missing Olive, off having a tea party with a chicken. George eventually gets the farm running smoothly and finds his true calling watching over Olive. A clever subplot shows the “wily cows” engaging in various escapades to get out into the cornfields for a feast. Humorous illustrations include lots of funny details and action as well as an appealing personality for lovable George.

A clever story somewhat brought down by Olive’s mismatched ages between text and illustrations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-4176-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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