Neighborly communication and care are at the heart of this excellent tale for young readers.


A boy covets his neighbor’s cat and finds both feline and human friendship in this illustrated children’s book.

When a friendly cat appears in his yard on Halloween, Benjy, a White boy, sees it as a sign that Tricks is meant to be his, though his parents have steadfastly refused to get any pets. Benjy’s mom insists the social cat can’t be a stray (“She’s too well fed. She smells too good”). Indeed, it turns out that the feline belongs to Erika, the new neighbor, who has started staying with her grandmother during the week while she attends a Deaf school in the area. Erika, a Black girl with curly hair, uses a hearing aid, lip-reads, and is learning sign language—and she makes the sign for stealing in front of Benjy. This inauspicious introduction becomes a friendship when Mrs. Currie, Erika’s grandmother, has to pick Benjy up from school after he helps rescue Tricks, whose real name is Fluffy, from the street’s misanthropic tomcat. Erika warms to Benjy and teaches him signs. When her parents suggest that Fluffy should live with them, rather than travel back and forth each weekend with Erika, Benjy proposes a win-win solution. Fluffy will live with Erika during the week and Benjy on weekends. Erika’s participation in Deaf culture is depicted as a source of well-being. She finds friends, a community, and a positive environment at her Deaf school. Pattison’s text is accessible for newly independent readers, and the simple story is undergirded by a satisfying emotional realism. Benjy’s single-minded pursuit of a pet—and his love of Fluffy—is one-note but deeply relatable. Pet lovers will be encouraged by Benjy’s and Erika’s caring, reasonable families. McBride’s sketches in graphite are useful visual cues for coming plot points in this gentle, engaging story. Erika’s signs are illustrated with clear diagrams, and an addendum teaches readers a few more.

Neighborly communication and care are at the heart of this excellent tale for young readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62944-209-9

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Mims House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.


From the How To Catch… series

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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