BIRD TALK

PLB 0-688-14173-0 Jonas (Watch William Walk, 1997, etc.) “eavesdrops” on dozens of birds, then transcribes their phrases in this unique guide to bird calls. Intrigued by “memory phrases,” descriptions of bird songs found in birdwatching guides, Jonas playfully places birds in conversation with each other, then graphically provides a human context that makes their talk humorous. For example, birds whose chatter is “Kitty-kitty-kitty,” “Meow,” or “Kitty-Go” are posed flying over, wading beside, or hovering near a tabby cat hiding in beach grass. Perched outside a classroom window, the mockingbird calls, “Teacher, teacher,” alongside the yellow-throated vireo and magnolia warbler who have school-related reading and numbers as part of their songs. The funniest spread pairs birds such as the Carolina wren, who sings “Tea-kettle, tea-kettle” with the Rufous-sided towhee, saying, “Drink your tea, drink your tea,” outside a kitchen window where the stove boasts a whistling tea kettle. Another has the same towhee exclaiming, “Hot-dog-pickle-ickle-ickle” next to the common nighthawk singing, “Pork, beans” from a tree that shades a picnic site. Each bird is deftly drawn in true-to-life colors with a preciseness of line that makes for easy identification. The accompanying sounds are presented in clearly delineated speech bubbles using varying sizes and fonts. It’s hard not to warble along, inspired by the riotous conversations in this comely book that is sure to have readers “cheerily-cheer-up” with “glug glug glee.” (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-14174-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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SNOW BEAR

In this sweetly sentimental story set in the frozen twilight of an Arctic spring, George (Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 699, etc.) tells of an Inuit girl who goes out to hunt. Bessie Nivyek sets out with her big brother, Vincent, to hunt for food; in a twist out of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Bessie bumps into a young bear, and they frolic: climbing, sliding, somersaulting, and cuddling. Vincent spies the tracks of his little sister and follows, wary of the mother bear; the mother bear is just as wary of Vincent. Out of the water rears danger to both the child and cub—a huge male polar bear. The mother bear warns her cub; it runs away, as does Bessie. Brother and sister head back home, “to eat, go to school, and learn the wisdom of the Arctic like Eskimo children do.” The brief text is lyrical and the illustrations are striking, with an impressively varied palette of white, in blue, green, yellow, and gold. Children who note that Vincent goes home empty-handed will wonder why he didn’t hunt any of the polar bears that were within range. While children will enjoy this romantic view of Bessie and the bear, those seeking a more realistic representation of life in this harsh environment will be unsatisfied. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0456-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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