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PUMA DREAMS

A lovely, beautifully illustrated story of a child’s dream fulfilled.

A young girl is fascinated by pumas, and after months of waiting and watching, she sees a puma near her home.

The unnamed narrator of the lyrically told story lives with her grandmother on a remote ranch in an unspecified location with mountains and canyons. The girl is fascinated with puma lore and legends, and her dream is to see a puma, even just once. She uses her allowance money to purchase a salt lick with hopes of luring a puma close enough for observation. After over a year of watching and dreaming, she finally sees a puma through the window as it circles the salt lick. The first-person story is told with evocative descriptions as the girl observes the environment around her with a dreamy, imaginative style enlivened by Gram’s pithy country sayings. An oversized format and expansive double-page–spread format showcase the striking, realistic illustrations done in a glowing, golden palette. The accomplished paintings capture the beauty of the natural surroundings and help create a real world for the rather lonely child. The girl and her grandmother present white. An author’s note offers more information about pumas as well as puma-conservation organizations, although exactly where pumas can be found in the U.S. is not made clear enough. The unlikely but real danger posed by pumas to humans is also not addressed.

A lovely, beautifully illustrated story of a child’s dream fulfilled. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2979-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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KNIGHT OWL

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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  • Caldecott Honor

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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