Just about any human owned by a cat would appreciate this as a gift.



Fred and Ginger are typical kitties…but their human isn’t always a fan.

Ginger (an orange tiger-stripe, of course) is a bit odd. “She plays with peas, / purrs at artichokes, / and speaks to pigeons.” Black puss Fred is a bit lazy; he sleeps on “sweaters (preferably white ones)” and “towels (obviously white ones)” and in the sink (white). Fred also likes to sleep under the covers of the bed (which he also fully occupies) and on top of the newspaper (when it’s being read). “He is friends with the vase, and the side table” (rubbing up against them) but certainly “NOT the vacuum” (when it is turned on, he runs). Fred “thinks he’s good at hiding” (behind sheer drapes), and sometimes the two gang up on their human (who is an artist). He yells when he “can’t take it anymore,” scaring the cats…and then apologizes with treats. The cats forgive him…but he knows who is in charge. International picture-book author Cali pens a simple story every cat’s human will recognize. However, it’s Italian debut illustrator Pirolli’s perfect portrayals of pussycats that charm from every page. Both cat expressions and the lines of their bodies are flawless. The interplay between textual narrative and illustrations is a primer in visual irony, so deadpan that children may need a few runs through to get it.

Just about any human owned by a cat would appreciate this as a gift. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6595-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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