Readers may stage their own pet shows, but here’s hoping they are more affirmative of their own pets than Grimelda is.


Grimelda, of the still-untidy room (Grimelda the Very Messy Witch, 2016), is back, this time trying to win the prize at the pet show with her cat, Wizzlewarts.

But is he spooktacular enough to win? Grimelda has her doubts, especially after Hildegard rides by on Blaze, her fire-breathing dragon. A spell might do the trick, but as before, her spell book is lost in the mess. What to do? Well, find a better pet, of course. But those turn out to be in short supply at the general store, and the monster eel she finds in the swamp may be a bit too spooktacular. But back at home, Wizzlewarts can’t be counted out yet. “He’d found her spell book! And what’s more, / he’d flipped to page three hundred four— / The Perfect Spell to Make a Cat / Spooktacular in Seconds Flat!” At the pet show, the spell, smudged with eye-scream fudge, doesn’t turn out quite as Grimelda had intended, but she and Wizzlewarts pull together for the ultimate win…and a new pet of a different sort. Ross’ digital illustrations are filled with fascinating details that will have readers poring over the pages, though diversity is in short supply (Grimelda and Hildegard both appear to be white). Murray never addresses Grimelda’s original lack of faith in Wizzlewarts, who surely must feel inadequate and unloved.

Readers may stage their own pet shows, but here’s hoping they are more affirmative of their own pets than Grimelda is. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-226449-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...


It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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