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THE RIVER OF CHEESE

An enjoyable feline tale that’s slightly hindered by pacing issues.

Awards & Accolades

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In this debut picture book, a cat comes up with a seemingly foolproof plan to catch a mouse.

In a classic tale of pursuit and near capture, a nameless feline finds his tranquil existence in an aging Victorian house rudely interrupted by the appearance of a mouse. As may be expected, he gives chase, dashing past a number of local village residents: an older man, a woman in a green dress, a fox, a baker, a jockey, and more. The race endures for a number of pages until the cat decides to approach the problem with smarts instead of the speed that has failed him thus far: “I’ll get that mouse if it’s the last thing I do, / I’ll think of a plan too good to be true!” He runs to the local cheese shop, whose wares he uses to fuel his massive trap for the mouse. But he doesn’t account for every possibility and he’s taken aback when his scheme goes awry. Lowles’ entertaining tale is told in bouncy, memorable rhymes that are augmented by her repetition of adjectives, like “It was a hot, hot day in an old, old house.” Coelho’s watercolor illustrations are exaggerated and cartoonish, reflecting the story’s wacky tone. But the action-packed plot is slow to arrive to the cat’s final plan, stealing some of the pleasure from these rhymes as they become repetitive in their descriptions of the townspeople, who are mostly white.

An enjoyable feline tale that’s slightly hindered by pacing issues.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2023

ISBN: 978-1838759742

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Nightingale Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How To Catch… series

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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