A largely amusing, if occasionally dark, series starter for cat lovers.

WHEN KITTENS GO VIRAL

A feline star is born into a social media dynasty in Pattison’s kids’ chapter book.

Cats, using amazing translation technology, have taken control of KittyTube and can now share and monetize their own video content. In an homage to the golden age of Hollywood studios, Kittywood is run by five major kennels, which engineer lucrative sponsorship deals with cat-food brands. Angel, a white Persian kitten, must quickly learn to adapt to the ups and downs of internet stardom. The road to a viral breakout, however, isn’t an easy one. As the daughter of two KittyTube stars, she must master the tricky skills of posing, acting, and grooming, all while forging political alliances with rival felines—especially her nemesis, Jazz, a Siamese cat who’s consistently ranked Top Kitten week after week. In a Black Mirror–meets–LOLCats plot twist, Angel has to become Top Kitten in order to secure funds to help her estranged father, who’s stranded in France after his starring role in a film titled Puss and Boots fell through. Her mother, MamaGrace, is unable to work after a car accident left her partially blind and scarred—a possible nod to Cats’ Grizabella. Over the course of the book, cameras loom ominously over the kittens’ lives. Some video sequences can be downright sad, as when Angel looks into the camera and meows: “It was my most woebegone meow. It was a cry for my mama. It was a cry for someone to come and pick me up and pet me.” Mostly, however, Pattison’s characters delight, as when Angel compliments fellow kitten PittyPat, who adores water: “There’s an art to looking charming when your fur is all wet.” Ultimately, the underlying message is that one’s self-worth should never get tangled up in the number of views one gets. Standard’s bubbly, black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations appear throughout, lending even more charm to an already whimsical story. Standard’s enthusiasm for animals is clear; one only wishes there were more of her drawings here.

A largely amusing, if occasionally dark, series starter for cat lovers.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62944-142-9

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Mims House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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