A winsome story despite its flaws, this will leave readers hoping that Potter left more unpublished gems in the vault where...

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THE TALE OF KITTY-IN-BOOTS

Miss Catherine St. Quintin is a mischievous kitty leading a secret double life in this recently discovered Potter tale.

Though her elderly owner thinks that she is a “serious, well behaved young black cat,” Catherine—who harbors a secret passion for air-rifle hunting while dressed in a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket and matching boots—is anything but. The rebellious (if well-bred) pet prefers palling around with common cats to presiding over tea parties with other respectable felines. After convincing a fellow cat to impersonate her, she sets out on a poaching expedition that goes awry and teaches her the value of home. While the fairly lengthy story itself, with its minx of a heroine and cameos from other well-established characters, contains the same magic that made generations of readers fall in love with Potter’s delightful animal creations, Blake’s scribbly illustrations are totally incongruous with her genteel fictional world. His style works beautifully with Roald Dahl’s madcap tales, but Potter’s refined characters merit a softer and more realistic illustrative touch. Readers who grew up enchanted by the gorgeous drawings in the Tale of Peter the Rabbit may wish that Blake had passed on this particular opportunity. Also jarring is the book’s large trim; at around 8 inches by 10 inches, it is almost twice as big as Potter’s books published in her lifetime, famously designed for “little hands.” A CD of Helen Mirren reading the text is packaged with the book.

A winsome story despite its flaws, this will leave readers hoping that Potter left more unpublished gems in the vault where it was discovered. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-241-24944-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Warne

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 29, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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