TESSA’S TIP-TAPPING TOES

Crimi (Don’t Need Friends, not reviewed, etc.) and Carrington (Sometimes I Feel Like a Stormcloud, not reviewed, etc.) team up for a humorous tale of a tap-dancing mouse and a singing cat who are more interested in their particular talents than in the traditional game of cat-and-mouse. Tessa the mouse is warned by her mother to stop tapping and twirling and to start scurrying quietly like a proper mouse. Oscar the cat is warned by his owner, Mrs. Trimboni, to start chasing the mice and to stop “crooning or caterwauling” because he bothers the neighbors. Both creatures go on with the show in another stay-true-to-yourself story that ends in a toe-tapping jam-fest with the mouse family, the cat, and Mrs. Trimboni all singing and kicking up their heels. Crimi uses expressive, rollicking language to describe the dancing and singing: “the skitter-scamper of little mice feet,” “a rowdy, riotous tune,” and “an all-out rock-’n’-roll, boogie-woogie, hip-hop, two-step combo.” Carrington’s large, crayon-bright paintings with varying perspectives are complemented by an oversized format with lots of double-page spreads. She has a flair for the hilarious touch, such as Tessa’s bottle-cap tap shoes and Oscar’s broomstick microphone. Although the storyline isn’t exceptional, this will fit well into lots of thematic story hours (mice, cats, dancing, singing, or follow-your-heart). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-31768-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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UNICORN WINGS

The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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