Not Cat’s funniest outing, but readers may get a kick out of imagining what adventures they might have with their own...


From the Here Comes… series

Cat is back, a busy schedule of naps interrupted by some substitute teaching when Ms. Melba gets sick. Will Cat survive?

It turns out that missing naps isn’t the worst part—attempts to escape out the window or hide under the desk show that kittens are out of Cat’s comfort zone. But the unseen narrator’s guilt trip about Ms. Melba’s past kindnesses gets the feline moving, albeit reluctantly. But what to do with all those identical-looking kittens? Music? Sure, but when the recorders prove discordant, Cat breaks out an electric guitar, which disturbs the class next door. Building time is more successful, but Cat again goes too far with art time, providing bowls of paint and demonstrating how to dip paws in and make prints on the wall. Uh-oh. Ms. Melba’s back (from the vet, evidently, as she is in an Elizabethan collar that will have pet owners chuckling). In a clean-up worthy of The Cat in the Hat, the kittens pitch in to save the day. And when asked what they learned, they use signs like Cat’s to explain. And Cat? Cat’s learned that kittens aren’t so bad after all. Cat’s droll expressions and signs are highlights, but while amusing, this entry doesn’t rise to the level of predecessors; Cat doesn’t walk that fine line between nasty and nice in the way that readers have come to expect, and the give-and-take with the narrator also isn’t as much fun.

Not Cat’s funniest outing, but readers may get a kick out of imagining what adventures they might have with their own substitute teachers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-53905-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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