My Dog’s a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari

My Dogs a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari

My Dog’s a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari and Anne Wilsdorf (InfoSoup)

Lula Mae really wants a puppy, but her mother tells her that times are hard and she will just have to make do. So Lula Mae takes a look around and decides that maybe a chicken could be a good dog. She finds the most likely chicken, one that is confident, and grabs it. She names the “dog” Pookie and puts a hair ribbon on its head. Her mother insists that whatever Lula Mae calls it, she’s not to bring it into the house. Soon Pookie is starting to act like a dog. She shepherds the other chickens around. She acts like a guard dog when Cousin Tater threatens Lula Mae and the baby with a garter snake. Pookie even manages to perform a search and rescue when Baby Berry goes missing.

This fanciful picture book is brimming with down home warmth. The book’s premise is wonderfully quirky, the substitution of a chicken for a dog. Readers will expect it to go very badly, but this book takes a more positive spin. Even as Pookie starts to act like a dog, she is still clearly a chicken reacting the way a chicken would in that situation. The humans interpret it differently, adding to the fun of the entire story.

Wilsdorf’s illustrations are done in watercolor and ink. They are filled with bright colors and show a vibrant rural lifestyle filled with chickens, woodpiles, and crops. Some of the illustrations show the paths of people (and chickens) running around and convey the panic of trying to find Baby Berry. Sharp-eyed children will spot him by following Pookie’s path.

Funny and entirely individual, this picture book is about making do and following your own heart. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.

Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals

Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals

Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals, illustrated by Patrice Barton (InfoSoup)

This picture book invites children to head outside and play in every season. The book begins in spring with children outside carrying umbrellas and jumping in puddles. They play with worms and get good and muddy. Then they head inside to dry off, dump out their boots, and mop up. Summer comes next with sand, water and shells. They carry it back inside with them too as they wash up from all of the sunshine. Autumn is next with apples and leaves that need to be picked off and raked up. Finally, there is winter with snow and ice that can be carried in and the children thawed out before a fire.

This is truly a celebration of playing outdoors. Each season begins with the line “We’re bringing the outside in, oh, bringing the outside in…” When the children head inside the line is repeated and readers can see how parts of being outside are actually brought inside with the children. The book ends with a collection of items saved from their year outside and slightly older children wanting to look through all of their treasures together.

The illustrations show such joy from the children as they spend time together outside. Grins spread ear-to-ear on their faces as they fly kites, stomp in puddles, jump in leaves and sled in snow. This book is pure warmth too, as children dry off, warm up and come back inside happily as well.

A book that shows the pleasure of being out of doors, this picture book should lead to a great ramble outside. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.