‘Queen Dog’ by Bridget Heos and Alejandro O’Keeffe: Charming picture book


What happens to “Queen Dog” when a new upstart comes into the palace? Bridget Heos and illustrator Alejandro O’Keeffe explore what happens when a spoiled dog meets the newest member of the family — a baby.

The text and the illustrations flow beautifully together. Queen Dog wears a royal purple crown and royal purple cushions. Her caretakers are “loyal servants” who massage her at the end of the day and take her on “hunts” several times a day.

But when the royal servants seem to be slacking on the job, the queen wonders what is going on. The text says, “Once or twice, Queen Dog was forced to prepare her own dinner.” The illustration shows Queen Dog rummaging in the garbage can with garbage strewn across the floor.

Children will love the disparity between the text and the illustrations — which show what is really happening. But all is happy in the end when the queen decides that Princess Catherine is a worthy friend and a fitting companion.

The vocabulary in the story is lovely, and the illustrations of Queen Dog are absolutely beautiful. Her eyes are expressive and her huge ears are adorably pink. It’s a picture book that kids will want to hear over and over. But parents — beware — they might just demand a Queen Dog of their own!

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover provided by the publisher, Disney – Hyperion, for review purposes.


‘100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits’ is delightful middle grade fantasy adventure


In “100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits,” Susan Maupin Schmid writes a story that will enchant middle grade readers. The story centers around a young servant girl in a castle which turns out to be magical. The young girl is improbably named Darling Dimple, and she rises from pot scrubber to the princess’ lowest ironing girl.

Darling falls under Princess Mariposa’s charm and is enchanted by her wardrobe. By accident, she finds the one unlocked closet of the princess’ wardrobe where the old queen’s dresses are kept. And when the magical canary is put in that closet one day, the magic comes alive — and so do the dresses.

Darling finds out that when she puts on a dress, not only does the dress magically change into a different dress, Darling becomes the image of another person. And once she realizes that there is a mystery in the castle that needs solving, and that the castle itself needs saving, Darling uses the dresses to investigate.

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‘Hotel Bruce’ by Ryan T. Higgins: Wonderful sequel to ‘Mother Bruce’


In “Mother Bruce,” author/illustrator Ryan T. Higgins introduced readers to Bruce, a grumpy, cantankerous bear who unwillingly adopted four goslings when they hatched before he could make an egg dish. Like any good “mother,” he took them to Florida when it was time to migrate.

This time, when “Mother” Bruce and his goslings return from Florida, there is trouble at the homestead. Three clever mice have turned the home into a hotel. Bruce, needless to say, is an even unhappier bear than usual.

The illustrations and the expressions on the faces of the animals who have taken up residence in the “hotel” are fabulous. There is a moose in the bed and a porcupine who wants to snuggle. The possums have pillow fights, and the mice turn the goslings into bellhops.

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‘Little Elliot, Big Fun’ by Mike Curato is a testament to friendship


“Little Elliot, Big Fun” by Mike Curato is the kind of picture book that kids will love to read again and again. They will learn the words and read along with the adults. It’s about the two friends — Little Elliot, a pastel-spotted elephant and his best friend Mouse — when they go to the boardwalk to have fun.

Little Elliot is frightened of the rides because they are too wet, too dizzy or too fast. A seagull eats his ice cream and a clown scares him. He runs away from those dangers but gets more and more frightened by the funhouse mirrors. Finally Mouse helps find rides that are more suited to Little Elliot and they enjoy the rest of the day.

The best part of the day, they realize, is that they are together. It’s a great lesson for young readers — that doing something together can be much more fun than doing it alone.

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Dog urgently needs home in Miami


Milly thought she had it made. After spending three long months at Miami Dade Animal Services, and after being featured on a pet segment for NBC, there was no interest in her, and she was definitely running out of time. Things did not look good for this sweet dog.

But a volunteer’s coworker visited the shelter and adopted Milly. During the week after the adoption, Milly seemed like the perfect dog. She was cuddly and shared a bed with her new “mom,”  she was smart and affectionate, she knew commands, and she got along with the Chihuahua in the home.

But the happy family life ended when Milly’s adopter arrived home from work to find puncture marks on her Chihuahua, who was bleeding. She rushed the tiny dog to the veterinarian. She was dismayed because things had seemed to be fine between the dogs. But she worried about her small dog, and even through she loved Milly in that short week, she returned her to the shelter.

The adopter is begging for someone to save Milly. She is heartbroken (please, no negative comments), and wants to tell people that Milly is “everything she was looking for in a dog.” And she had been visiting the shelter since her other dog died three months earlier. Now she feels doubly guilty — that her Chihuahua was injured, and that Milly was abandoned yet again.

Milly is a great dog who needs time and someone willing to take things slowly in terms of introductions to other dogs. But even great dogs are killed at this shelter where dogs are either labeled aggressive and killed or said to be sick and then killed. Milly’s return to the shelter offers those in charge the perfect opportunity to kill her. They can simply say she is “dog aggressive” and kill her. Please don’t let that happen. Please share her story.

Milly deserves another chance.

Milly is ID#A1806505. She is listed as a spayed female tan and white Terrier mix. The shelter says she is around three years old and 48 pounds. There may be more information on her Facebook thread. She is located at Miami Dade Animal Services, 3599 NW 79 Avenue, Doral, Florida 33166. The phone number is (305) 884-1101. The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Email:pets@miamidade.gov for more information.

Please note that I do not work at the shelter. Do not post pledges or offers to adopt in the comments — they will not be seen by the shelter. Contact the shelter directly to help, or visit the Facebook threads for more information. Also, only respectful, profanity-free comments will be approved.

Wonderful nonfiction picture books about nature

Three fabulous picture books about insects have been published by Sleeping Bear Press this past year. Each of them brings the wonder of nature and its animals to the attention of young readers.

“Mr. McGinty’s Monarchs” by Linda Vander Heyden and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen is the fictional story of Mr. McGinty, a man who with his dog, Sophie, loved watching the colorful monarch butterflies that flitted from flower to flower and then laid eggs on the milkweed plants. But when the milkweed plants are cut and the monarch caterpillars are in danger, McGinty springs into action to save the precious little ones. While the story is about a fictional character, the information contained in the text gives valuable information to the readers about the life cycle and needs of monarch butterflies. The two sections at the end, “Monarchs and Milkweed” and “A Monarch’s Migration,” serve to give the reader still more information. Even adults will learn something new about America’s favorite butterfly! The illustrations are simple but filled with bright colors and joy. Ewen used black India ink, watercolor, acrylic highlights on heavy watercolor paper. The texture from the 300 pound paper shows in the illustrations. Ewen commented on Mr. McGinty, “I wanted to make him a warm personality that kids would feel comfortable talking to.” He certainly is all that!

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