A winsome story despite its flaws, this will leave readers hoping that Potter left more unpublished gems in the vault where...

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A winsome story despite its flaws, this will leave readers hoping that Potter left more unpublished gems in the vault where it was discovered.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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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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