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School Library Journal

A simple but inadvertently "terrifying" misunderstanding is the premise for this tale of Goblin and Troll's good intentions. The two friends enjoy a cup of tea and discuss how rude children are. The purple and green creatures decide then and there to "find the rudest child of all and have it for dinner." On their way to town, they compliment Mary from "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" on her beautiful garden only to be met with a terse, not very polite, but not surprising response. Colorful cartoon illustrations fill the pages, and observant children will find many nursery rhyme characters in the backgrounds, including the three little pigs, Little Bo Peep and her sheep, Jack and Jill from hill fame, Little Jack Horner, and others. The disgruntled three bears explain their predicament to Goblin and Troll: there's a rude child in their house creating chaos. The two friends take it from there. VERDICTYoungsters will have fun pointing out the various nursery rhyme characters and will be anxious to learn of Goldilocks's fate.

-Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek Public Library WI

Goldilocks For Dinner
Hip Hop Lollipop


by Susan McElroy Montanari; illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Age Range: 3 - 7



With dance moves and beats that soothe, splashed with swirling lines and colors displayed in array—this picture-book tale is a fun-filled hip-hop hooray!


Montanari blends energetic rhythm with toe-tapping rhymes in her happy narrative of little Lollipop’s love of hip-hop and dance. “Mama says, ‘Time for bed. / Bed.’ / Lollie’s arms overhead. / Dancing down the long hall. / Bouncing off the tall wall.” But getting a bouncy ball of raw stamina down for bedtime is harder than you think. Pinkney’s swooping lines and whooshes of color enliven the story. Depicting dancing pets that arc and sway in time to the cadence of the rhymes, Pinkney amply demonstrates his mastery of visual narrative. He adds an almost abstract quality with his use of line, using pastel colors to suggest outlines of furniture and then transforming them seamlessly into sheer motion in a smart, refreshing way, playing with perspective while showing totally realistic joy on the characters’ charmingly rich, brown faces. Montanari has penned a read-aloud treat that is sure to enhance the nighttime ritual. However, caregivers shouldn’t be surprised if their little ones decide this bedtime story deserves backup dancers.

Though it’s far from lulling, it’s well worth the risk of a prolonged bedtime. The glee it provokes will surely be worth it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Who's The Grossest of Them All
Who's The Grossest of Them All?


Montanari, Susan McElroy, Illus. Parker, Jake, August 2016, 40,

Schwartz & Wade, hardcover, $17.99, 9780553511901


Nosepickers, rejoice! In a friendly contest, purple Troll and green Goblin buttonhole passersby to get their votes on who is grosser. Unfortunately, it’s a tie—until, that is, a small child in a red cloak comes skipping by to school the two on truly gross behavior. Readers will have to supply most of the ick factor themselves, as in Parker’s sunny, clean-lined cartoon illustrations neither Troll nor Goblin looks as loathsome as they proclaim themselves to be. Likewise, the big green booger that the child hauls out of her nose and waves around on a finger is no more disgusting in appearance than a pinch of modeling clay. Nor does she eat it: just smearing it on her face and dress puts the revolted monsters to flight and leaves her the victor. This lesson in decorum is cleverly oblique, and its unapologetic protagonist compares favorably with those of boy-centric picks like Carolyn Beck’s cautionary Richard Was A Picker (2010) or William Joyce’s autobiographical Billy’s Booger (2015). — John Peters

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Nonna's Corner

my dog's a chicken

my dog's a chicken


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my dog's a chicken

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my dog's a chicken

December 2015 issue of (circulation: 30,000):




MONTANARI, Susan McElroy. My Dog’s a Chicken. illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. 40p. ebook available. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385384902.

PreS-Gr 1–Lula Mae desperately wants a dog, but Mama tells her that times are hard and she’ll have to “make do.” Without missing a beat, the girl decides that one of the many chickens roaming their yard could make a suitable dog—especially the black-and-white speckled hen who struts around like she owns the place. Blithely ignoring her squawks of protest, Lula Mae calls her new pet Pookie, plops a bright red bow atop the hen’s head, and declares her a fine show dog. When she sees the other chickens running frantically in the opposite direction from the bow-wearing hen, Lula Mae decides that Pookie’s also a terrific shepherd dog. Later, when Cousin Tater tries to scare Lula Mae with a garter snake and Pookie responds with a loud “BAWK! BAWK!” Lula Mae decides that she is a fine guard dog as well. With each declaration, Mama deadpans, “Call it anything you like, but it’s not coming in my house.” When little Baby Berry suddenly goes missing, it’s Pookie who unintentionally saves the day. Wilsdorf’s watercolor and China ink illustrations extend the humor of Montanari’s text through the characters’ comical expressions and some well-placed speech bubbles. Though picture books set in the country featuring traditional nuclear families are in no short supply, it’s the irrepressible optimism of Lula Mae, Mama’s droll responses, and Papa’s befuddled exasperation (“Lula Mae, what are you doing to that chicken!”) that set this story apart and make for an ideal read-aloud that will have kids and adults chuckling. Careful readers will spot clues to Baby Berry’s whereabouts, and keen observers will enjoy the chicken antics on the endpapers.


VERDICT A lively choice for storytimes, and a great addition to most picture book collections.


–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

my dog's a chicken

January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book (circ: 9,000):



By Susan McElroy Montanari; illus. by Anne Wilsdorf Primary Schwartz & Wade/Random 40 pp. 2/16 978-0-385-38490-2 $16.99

Library ed. 978-0-385-38491-9 $19.99 g e-book ed. 978-0-385-38492-6 $10.99

Lula Mae longs for a dog. Her parents, a hardscrabble farming couple, are adamant: it’s not happening.

Like many literary forebears facing this particular frustration, Lula Mae approaches her dilemma with determination and creativity. In an innovative workaround, she not only designates a chicken as her pet dog but

sets out to show said chicken’s worthiness for the role. She proves to her parents that “Pookie” is a show dog, a shepherd dog, a guard dog, and a search-and-rescue dog, and at the joyous denouement Pookie earns the ultimate privilege: a place at the foot of Lula Mae’s bed. In Wilsdorf ’s illustrations Lula Mae bounces with

brio and her baby brother has a satisfying, blobby heft, but it is Pookie and the other chickens, with their personalities and anarchic demented energy, who steal the show. No genteel clucks here. These fowl give it their all in seventy-two-point type: “BAWK! BAWK! BAWK!” This energetic celebration of making-do begs for

an unrestrained read-aloud.


-Sarah Ellis, The Horn Book

my dog's a chicken

January 1, 2016 issue of Booklist (circ: 24,150):



Montanari, Susan McElroy (Author) , Wilsdorf, Anne (Illustrator) Feb 2016. 40 p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, hardcover, $16.99. (9780385384902).

Lulu Mae lives on a farm with her family, and all she wants is a dog. But times are hard, and Mama says

that Lulu Mae is just going to have to do without. But Lulu is not giving up. “Maybe a chicken could be a

dog,” she thinks. One black-and-white chicken stands out, strutting its stuff through the barnyard, and Lulu

knows immediately that it’s the “dog” for her. Lulu names her Pookie, ties a ribbon to her head, and sets

off to prove that Pookie is the best dog ever. But when Lulu’s baby brother, inspired by Lulu’s chicken

chasing, wanders off, it’ll take a true search-and-rescue dog to save the day. The glossy watercolor-and-ink

illustrations, alternating between wide shots of chaotic life on the farm and close-ups of Lulu trying to

bond with her new pet, are silly and entertaining, and the tale is charming. This is a fun twist on the wacky

new-pet story, with an enthusiastic heroine and a sassy chicken to boot. 


— Maggie Reagan, Booklist

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