An homage to classic fantasies for an audience willing to suspend all disbelief and just go along for the ride.

THE ADVENTURES OF MISS PETITFOUR

Miss Petitfour is a quirky, creative, charming, magical cat lover.

The narrator speaks directly to readers in a schoolmarmish sort of voice, first introducing the heroine and each of her 16 cats. Each odd, whimsical adventure involves Miss Petitfour’s ability to use carefully selected tablecloths as a means of flying around her village, with her cats forming a kind of kite tail or ballast. There is nothing normal about this village or any of its inhabitants. There are handsome, giant-sized shop signs and delightfully named villagers who are perfectly accepting of Miss Petitfour’s aeronautic abilities. Michaels employs a rhythmic syntax that provides long descriptive lists of everything from the items in a jumble sale through the rare stamps in an album to silly book titles. The names of each of the 16 cats are repeated again and again. Woven through the tales are instructions on the techniques of storytelling. Examples of digressions and key phrases that move the story along, such as “fortunately” and “then one day,” are explained and demonstrated. A multitude of words that tickle the tongue—“gesticulating,” “propitious”—are defined within the stories. These words and phrases are flagged with italics or uppercase letters and printed in colored ink. Block’s charming, full-color illustrations complement the tales in a decidedly mid-20th-century modern style.

An homage to classic fantasies for an audience willing to suspend all disbelief and just go along for the ride. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77049-500-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more