With a peculiar ending, shaky plot, and passive art, this book may appeal to hard-core dog lovers, but it will likely leave...


A bored, imaginative dog makes his dreams a reality.

Figgy loves his human owner, George Mustardo. But sometimes George leaves for long stretches of time. A pattern develops: the very bored Figgy waits, eats something he shouldn’t, and then dreams about something directly related to the item ingested. When Figgy awakens, he makes his dreams come true. Despite this obvious intentionality, Figgy’s dreams (himself as a rock star, pizza maker, race car driver) feel arbitrary. And while a canine protagonist who thinks like a human requires a suspension of disbelief, the fact that Figgy is sometimes very doggish (eating paper) and other times very human (rock-’n’-rolling) is strange—as are the pop-culture references that young children will most likely miss. Spreads depicting Figgy’s life, dreams, and dreams-come-true lack dynamic, while the few pages in which he’s bored—three separate illustrations per spread with hilariously evident emotion—are the most engaging. And though Figgy has personality, the other animals depicted are cute but disappointingly flat. The clunky ending, during which Figgy decides to give himself away while his family (all white), who thinks he’s unwell, provides him with a companion rather than a trip to the vet or more attention, doesn’t make much sense.

With a peculiar ending, shaky plot, and passive art, this book may appeal to hard-core dog lovers, but it will likely leave general readers befuddled. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-228582-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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