A beautiful, quiet, indoor-outdoor family story that will dazzle the eye and warm the heart.

ONLY THE CAT SAW

An animal’s-eye view of a typical night on a farm.

As Tessa, a little curly-haired, olive-skinned girl, her father, mother, and baby brother, Sam, progress through an evening, a night, and a morning, their yellow-eyed, marmalade tabby cat sees much that the humans miss. Following each refrain of “only the cat saw...” is a wordless, double-page spread of the cat prowling about: gazing at the sheep from the window; catching fireflies; watching an owl hunt a mouse; and more. After the tabby’s active night, the narrative shifts to Tessa’s perspective for a satisfying ending. Wolff’s spectacularly textured, highly saturated paintings show that cats who wander have lives all their own, independent of their owners. With these new illustrations accompanying a text first published in 1985, Wolff also offers intimate views of this multiracial family that are rarely found in picture books: Readers see Tessa’s head and legs as she sits on the toilet at 2 a.m.; Mother nurses Sam in bed while Father sleeps. Since the book opens with Father hanging laundry on the clothesline while holding baby Sam in a baby carrier and ends with Father feeding Sam while Mother cooks breakfast, it seems that both parents take an equal share in raising the children and caring for the house.

A beautiful, quiet, indoor-outdoor family story that will dazzle the eye and warm the heart. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6692-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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