a dog that bawks and other animal tales …a list of five

my dog's a chicken cover imageMy Dog’s a Chicken, by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books

Lula Mae’s life on her family’s hardscrabble farm would be ever so much better if she could have a puppy, but as it’s “just another mouth to feed” she’s got to make do with the only available option — a chicken. Plenty of those to choose from.

my dog's a chicken interior montanari and wilsdorf

After some consideration, Lulu nabs the chicken with the spunkiest attitude, names it Pookie, and announces to one and all that “it ain’t a chicken.” It’s her dog. Turns out, Pookie is many dogs, all rolled into one squawking, bawking, feathered figure. She’ll win your heart as quickly as she conquers Lulu Mae’s in this vivacious adventure.

Anne Wilsdorf’s vibrant, energetic illustrations add a wonderful splash of mayhem. A happy read for ages 3 and up.

who wants a tortoise? cover imageWho Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane, illustrated by K.G. Campbell
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf

Just like Lula Mae, the little gal in this story desperately wants a puppy. In fact, it’s “the ONLY thing” on her birthday wish list. Alas, Dad is allergic to dogs, so her birthday present turns out to be…

who wants a tortoise illustration2 K.G. Campbell

…a tortoise. “WHO WANTS A TORTOISE?!” she rages. They don’t fetch. Don’t beg. Don’t greet you with excited waggings and lickings when you come home. What’s the good of them, anyway?

Hold on, though, because tortoises do have some excellent qualities. Unfortunately just as Little Miss Feisty begins to appreciate him, Mr. Tortoise displays one of his most exemplary abilities: hiding. Uh-oh.

who wants a tortoise? illustration by K.G. Campbell

Dave Keane nails the roller coaster of emotions and viewpoints of a passionate child and creates a hero from one trusty tortoise. K.G. Campbell’s exquisite illustrations capture all the postures and attitudes with zing and charm. A juicy read for ages 3 or 4 and up.

hare and tortoise cover imageHare and Tortoise, retold and illustrated by Alison Murray
published in Great Britain, 2015; first U.S. edition by Candlewick in 2016

Speaking of tortoises, here’s the Most Famous Tortoise of All Time in his epic race against that hotshot hare.

Scottish illustrator Alison Murray has pared down Aesop’s fable to this nutshell version that’s perfect for toddlers. Using direct, bold narration in a storyteller’s voice, sprinkling in a healthy dash of humor and caprice, she whooshes us into one breezy, fast-paced race.

hare and tortoise interior2 alison murray

Vigorous, sunny illustrations flood the tall pages with color and verve. It’s a joyful version to share with ages 2 and up, with an added dose of kindness to soothe Hare’s ruffled feelings when the race is done. Champion fare!

how to catch a mouse cover imageHow to Catch a Mouse, written and illustrated by Philippa Leathers
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

A different sort of chase is going down in this book. Clemmie, a darling orange kitten, self-identifies as “a fearsome mouse catcher.” So brave, patient, and well-informed, that nary a mouse dares enter her house, says Clemmie.

Truth be told — Clemmie is being fooled by a very clever little mouse with a penchant for disguise.

how to catch a mouse interior philippa leathers

Young children will giggle with glee as they discover the mouse-that-Clemmie-overlooks on page after page of this warmly funny story. A nail-biting ending is the cherry on top! Ages 2 and up.

next to you title pageNext to You: A Book of Adorableness, by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by Sydney Hanson
published in 2016 by Albert Whitman & Company

Finally, this small valentine to be shared between a doting grandparent or affectionate dad, and a favorite little squirt.

You think cute puppies and kittens are adorable?

You think this “squirrel eating a doughnut with his tiny hands” is dear?

next to you interior houran and hanson

Well, they’ve got nothing on you, dear! Because you’re the most adorable, irresistible one, ever! The casual, conversational tone of the text here keeps this book from becoming the saccharine mess you might fear. It’s got just the right touches of good humor and laid-back ease.

Meanwhile the illustrations have that whole Margaret Keane thing going on with those giant doe-eyes on every creature. Snuggle up with the wee apples-of-your-eye and let them feel 100% adored. Ages 15 months and up.