While not the funniest addition to the series or to the genre, this latest outing should please fans of Ballet Cat.


From the Ballet Cat series

The feline dancer returns for a new adventure, in which cousins vie for the affection of their grandmother.

Ballet Cat is busily and happily preparing a show for Grandma featuring her dramatic moves. Cousin Goat then shows up carrying a box labeled “The Great Goatini” and puts a damper on Ballet Cat’s proceedings by readying a magic show. “Magic is Grandma’s favorite.” Goat demonstrates two (very obvious) tricks for Ballet Cat, who, in turn, shows off her repertoire. Grandma (a white, bespectacled dog with black ears) arrives and is tucked into a chair and served “those dry cookies old people like.” Tricks and dance steps follow, but the audience is sound asleep. Awakened, she attests that both shows were the best, but her “FAVORITE favorite” is a choice that many young readers will find both tastefully agreeable and tasty. Shea once again places the short, snappy, and repetitive dialogue in color-coded and shaped speech bubbles (blue oblongs for Goat, and pink ovals for Ballet Cat). His characters are digitized shapes outlined in swirls of black and set on backgrounds of bright, solid colors. Ballet Cat’s ballet steps are limited—but not her enthusiasm. Goat is a lively and ultimately likable character.

While not the funniest addition to the series or to the genre, this latest outing should please fans of Ballet Cat. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7809-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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 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 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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