Proceeds go to the North Shore Animal League America, which is probably the best thing that can be said about this...

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YODA

THE STORY OF A CAT AND HIS KITTENS

A Persian cat adopted from a shelter becomes “foster papa” to four rowdy kittens in celebrity author Stern’s sentimental tale.

As a kitten, Yoda dreams big dreams. But when his owner tires of him, he is taken to an animal shelter, where his condition degrades and he develops an inferiority complex watching other cats leave with new owners. Then “a nice lady named Beth” adopts him despite his perceived shortcomings and brings him home to what Crane depicts as kitty heaven: There are cat condos, scratching posts and toy mice galore. Nevertheless, the vet diagnoses him with “a sad heart.” Suddenly, four foster kittens appear in the household, and now Yoda’s life has meaning, protecting and teaching the furry scamps. At last, “Yoda has a happy heart.” An author’s note explains that the real-life Yoda has a heart condition, but the patronizing language obfuscates this hard truth. Stern’s narrative suffers from abrupt transitions and a confusing timeline: Where does Yoda grow from kitten to cat? At his original home? The shelter? Beth’s? The plot is likewise flimsy, relying on emotional manipulation and arbitrary action for its effect. Judging from the photo of Yoda on the back cover, Crane paints him accurately, but jowly verisimilitude leaves little room for personality; the kittens have far more mobile expressions than Yoda does.

Proceeds go to the North Shore Animal League America, which is probably the best thing that can be said about this well-meaning but unsuccessful story . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4407-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

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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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