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LITTLE RED AND THE CAT WHO LOVED CAKE

An indulgence for Mother Goose die-hards.

Wolfie is an orange cat who dreams of cake—never mind the chocolate frosting!

Unfortunately the cake in question is destined for Little Red’s grandma, should the book follow the “Little Red Riding Hood” plot (and it does). After Little Red, a White child with short ginger hair who wears a red, hooded jacket, bakes and frosts a cake with the help of Big Red, a bearded adult with matching hair and skin, a game of cat and mouse ensues in comic-book–style spreads and panels. Cautious of being caught in pursuit, Wolfie dodges several looks back from Little Red, hiding alongside various images of cats passed along the way. Without narrative text, the book relies on Mother Goose and Brothers Grimm references to hold the visual interest, as a child being followed by a cat doesn’t really demand the nearly 64 pages it takes up. For those well versed in nursery rhymes, storefronts like Humpty Dumpty Insurance, Gingerbread Gym, and Mary Q. Contrary Florist may earn a chuckle, but the only real fun is in finding all of Bo Peep’s “lost” sheep—often not far from one of her flyers. In a low-stakes climax, Wolfie is outwitted by Grandma and Little Red, who kindly share their cake after a lighthearted prank. Just in case the story—or lack thereof—didn’t drag on long enough, readers can follow the pair all the way home again (jiggety jig) and into bed. A key to fairy tales and rhymes referenced—and the rhymes themselves—appears at the back. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An indulgence for Mother Goose die-hards. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-31510-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2018

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