A gentle, feel-good feline fantasy.

CAT WISHES

A skeptical cat who disavows wishes finds himself pleasantly surprised.

Hungry and alone in a “windy wood,” Cat wishes for something to eat. When he catches a snake, the snake makes a bargain. If Cat spares his life, the snake will grant Cat’s wish. Cat replies, “No such thing as a wish,” but he releases the snake anyway. Wiggling away, the snake promises Cat three wishes. Still hungry and unconvinced, Cat wishes for a Fish—and his wish is granted. As it starts to rain, Cat’s wet and still unconvinced, but he wishes for a house. Soon Cat’s curled up before the fireplace in “his very own house.” Waking up alone in the dark house, Cat still pooh-poohs wishing, but nevertheless, he wishes for a friend—with unexpected results. The spare text relies on clever placement of onomatopoeic words such as “rustle,” “pad,” “splash,” “burp,” “plop,” “sniff,” and “shuff,” to effectively convey Cat’s sensory world. Soft-edged illustrations in pale watercolor washes and digital media visually portray Cat’s environment, emphasizing his solitary condition as he stalks, crouches, coils, pounces, pads, and runs on “whisper feet” across the atmospheric double-page spreads. His expressive face and body tell their own story.

A gentle, feel-good feline fantasy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-61055-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Chilling in the best ways.

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CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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