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

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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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