September 15, 2015 Booklist 69 www.booklistonline.com
to navigate their new relationship. The happy
ending is expected—sisterhood forever!—but
is satisfying nonetheless. —Ilene Cooper
My Dog, Bob.
By Richard Torrey. Illus. by the
Sept. 2015. 32p. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823433865).
In this amusing picture book, a little boy
introduces his amiable pet. “Like all dogs,
Bob loves breakfast,” the boy says, adding,
“Sometimes he makes it
himself.” An illustration
shows the aproned dog
standing at the kitchen
counter, cracking an egg
into a bowl and saying,
“Eggs for Jeff. Pancakes
for Mom and Dad. Ham
for me.” Similarly, this
dog enjoys riding in the family car, but he really prefers driving. His idea of fun with a ball is
playing golf. Unlike other dogs, he won’t fetch
sticks or respond to commands such as “sit”
or “speak,” but even when a neighbor gloats
about her dog’s apparent superiority, the boy
reassures Bob that it’s okay. The child narrator makes short statements in a matter-of-fact
voice, while speech balloons carry conversations and other remarks. The words and
pictures have different roles to play, and their
juxtaposition creates the story’s understated
but very accessible humor. Simply drawn in
oil pencil and brightened with watercolors,
Torrey’s expressive, cartoonlike illustrations
contribute greatly to the book’s tone, combining wit with affection. Whether Bob’s feats are
seen as real or imagined, this charmer of a picture book, reminiscent of Norman Bridwell’s
original Clifford the Big Red Dog (1973), is
great fun for reading aloud. —Carolyn Phelan
One Bear Extraordinaire.
By Jayme McGowan. Illus. by the author.
Sept. 2015. 32p. Abrams, $16.95 (9781419716546).
Bear is a musical sensation “known across
the wilderness for his nimble paws, honey
harmonies, and twinkle-toed grace,” until one
day his music loses its extraordinary quality.
He begins to search high and low for the elu-
sive element his songs are lacking. Along the
way, he joins forces with a banjo-playing fox,
an accordion-playing raccoon, and a fiddle-
playing rabbit. While their sound is good,
bear knows something is still missing. At last,
a wolf pup joins the group and provides the
key ingredient when he begins to howl. Bear
watches “the music swirl and hover over the
ridge . . . echo through the canyon . . . and
fill the sky.” Beautifully designed, richly col-
ored cut-paper illustrations effectively show
the movement implicit in Bear’s musical
search while allowing each character’s unique
personality to shine through. Sweeping land-
scapes alternate with scenes in rustic frames
that give the effect of placing the characters
on a stage. There is much to relish in this story
of camaraderie. —Randall Enos
Oskar and the Eight Blessings.
By Richard Simon and Tanya
Simon. Illus. by Mark Siegel.
Sept. 2015. 40p. Roaring Brook, $17.99
(9781596439498). Gr. 1–3.
Eloquently rendered in art and text, this
graphic-novel-style picture book relates the
story of young Jewish immigrant Oskar, who,
is sent by his parents to New York
City to live with
his aunt. Arriving
from Europe on
the seventh night
also Christmas Eve—with just her address
and picture, Oskar searches the big, bustling city for her home. Along the way, he
discovers unexpected kindnesses: a woman
feeding birds shares bread, a man extends a
helping hand after Oskar falls, until, finally,
Aunt Esther sees him on the street and gives
him a warm embrace. The descriptive prose
has lyrical touches, while vibrantly accented,
softly shaded illustrations incorporate varying perspectives and historical details, such
as Superman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Oskar’s
charming encounter with Count Basie, whose
whistling inspires Oskar to whistle back—
“his first conversation in America.” From
poignant to hopeful, Oskar’s experiences affectingly illuminate and convey his father’s
parting words: “Even in bad times, people can
be good.” Though the story is geared toward
younger readers, the prelude’s evocative, shadowy Kristallnacht depiction lacks explanation
and may raise questions, so this may be best
read with adult guidance. A brief glossary
defines some terms, and a map of 1938 Manhattan pinpoints Oskar’s path and the eight
encounters—his blessings. —Shelle Rosenfeld
Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps.
By Sophy Henn. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2015. 32p. Philomel, $16.99 (9780399171598).
Pom Pom Panda wakes up on the wrong
side of the bed one day, and every annoy-
ing thing just makes his case of the grumps
worse. Cereal too soggy? “Harrumph!”
Toothbrush too scratchy? “Harrumph!”
Birds too noisy on the way to preschool?
“Harrumph!” The scowling panda’s foul
mood continues all the way to his class,
where his friends try to cheer him up, but
Pom Pom will not be swayed. “GO AWAY,”
he yells, and his friends dutifully obey. But
now Pom Pom has another problem: he is
lonely! Luckily, he has the good sense to
apologize, which also, happily, lifts the storm
cloud from his head. Henn’s bright, blocky
illustrations have a childlike look, and Pom
Pom’s black-ringed eyes are perfect for show-
casing recognizable emotions. The cheerful
palette is in comical contrast to Pom Pom’s
mood, and little ones will likely chuckle at
the panda’s over-the-top surliness and find
comfort in the fact that Pom Pom’s friends
forgive him for his grouchy outburst. Hand
to kiddos who liked Samantha Berger’s Cran-
kenstein (2013). —Sarah Hunter
Poo in the Zoo.
By Steve Smallman. Illus. by Ada Grey.
Sept. 2015. 32p. Tiger Tales, $16.99 (9781589251977).
Zookeeper Bob McGrew cares for lots
of animals, which also means lots of poop-scooping, including “gobs of gnu poo,
bouncy kangaroo poo, / a dotted line of
droppings from a fat wombat!” But his routine is interrupted when an iguana escapes
its habitat and goes on an eating binge, devouring cakes, pizza, and more (even fireflies,
for “something light”). Then Bob notices the
iguana’s subsequent poo is, unbelievably,
glowing—and he decides it must be from
outer space. Word of the luminous leavings
spreads, and they become a major attraction,
eventually drawing interest from an enthusiastic poo-collector who buys the dung for
his poo museum, enabling Bob to purchase
a much-appreciated robotic poop-scooper.
Colorful, cartoonish illustrations depict
the zoo setting and humorously expressive
animals with playful details, while the narrative’s rhythm and rhymes keep things peppy.
The scatological scenarios are certainly copious, though blatantly hyperbolic, including
the museum’s seemingly endless array of
apothecary jars with labeled specimens, featured on the endpapers. The title alone will
be enough to get this chuckleworthy book in
the right hands. —Shelle Rosenfeld
By Jessica Olien. Illus. by the author.
Sept. 2015. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99
(9780062357144). PreS–Gr. 1.
Poor Shark is feeling mighty lonely un-
til he comes across a missing kitty flier one
afternoon. Finally, his solitary nights of
watching detective shows are about to pay
off. He will become—cue the sunburst back-
drop—Shark Detective! He even has the
Sherlock hat and magnifying glass for the
job. To prepare, he tries to think like a kitty;
he researches at the library; he does rooftop
tai chi. Let the investigation begin! Unfor-
tunately, people scream or hide every time
he tries asking questions about the missing
cat. Sure, he is a shark, but can’t they tell
he is a vegetarian? On the brink of giving
up, Shark gets an idea that helps him crack
the case and make a friend. Olien’s detective
spoof is comic in both look and tone. Drawn
in a loose, comic-book style, where saturat-
ed colors prevail, the cartoonish characters
speak in speech bubbles and wander the
streets and shadowy alleyways. With laughs
lurking around every corner, readers will
embrace the silliness of this unlikely sleuth.
Continued from p. 67