In three short chapters of just a few words each, Lobel demonstrates her artistry for choosing the right ingredients to create a perfect concept book around the life of a small gray-striped cat. “All Week Long,” the first story or chapter, presents not only the days of the week, but also colors, and in the process, accomplishes a fine assessment of one little girl's activities by focusing, cat’s-eye view, on her footwear. Tuesday's flashy red cowboy boots take her bike-riding, and Saturday’s demure pink toe shoes inspire Nini, the cat, to lift an elegant paw and so on. The second segment, “Nini's Year,” evokes much more about months than simply their names, even during March, when the howling winds Nini listens to wouldn't seem to give an ordinary artist much to go on visually. The surprise here is the Nini of December, who “waited for good things,” and proudly accepts her holiday gifts—three gray-striped kittens. The titular third story may seem a book-bulking appendage or a pretext for including number concepts, but it is also the necessary expansion of Nini's world, for she is a cat of the outdoors. Here her presence is diminished so that sometimes only a head peeps from the edges of white-framed illustrations depicting life around her home near a lighthouse. The book's culminating spread shows one moon smiling at a 100-starred cat constellation above a very tiny cat. There's neither a missing elementary concept nor a jarring fly in the ointment of this bewitching cat's charmed life. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-15539-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.


Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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