ROCKY, THE CAT WHO BARKS

The prolific Napoli (Daughter of Venice, above, etc.) teams up with newcomer Kane for a humorous pet story about a small black-and-white dog, Rocky, trying to fit into a new family with two “little monsters” (very spoiled children) and five confident cats. The cats tease Rocky, steal his toys, food, and blanket, and make his life generally miserable. When the unruly children decide to dress the cats in baby clothes and use (or abuse) them as dolls, Rocky barks bravely at the little monsters, alerting their mother to rescue the cats. The grateful cats, in a rapid reversal, accept Rocky into their kitty coalition, and he adopts a few feline behaviors while remaining “the only cat who barks.” Petrosino’s (Rabbit Stew, 1999) illustrations employ a cartoon style and citrus shades, with full-page spreads showing cats and kids in action and lots of humorous, smaller illustrations framed by irregular backgrounds in soft peach. The five cats (mean mother Misha, curly-haired Cappuccino, longhaired Crystal Kitty, tiny Cally, and blue-eyed, blue-haired Latte) possess a variety of colors, shapes, and personalities, and shy little Rocky has a rascally charm of his own. (Picture books. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46544-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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FARFALLINA & MARCEL

Farfallina the caterpillar and Marcel the gosling become fast friends when they meet during a rainshower, taking an immediate liking to one another. The two play hide-and-seek, each taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the other (Marcel can’t climb trees like Farfallina, Farfallina can’t move as fast as Marcel) and enjoy traversing the pond together, Farfallina riding on Marcel’s back. One day, Farfallina doesn’t feel like herself, so she climbs a tree while Marcel waits at the bottom. He waits and waits, until finally, lonely and worried, he gives up. When he next sees his reflection in the pond, he can hardly recognize himself; he’s grown so much. Alert readers will surmise that Farfallina has done some growing of her own, and it’s true: when she finally emerges, she has become a beautiful butterfly. She descends, saddened that Marcel did not wait for her; the only creature in the vicinity is a handsome goose in their pond. Of course, the goose is Marcel, but neither friend recognizes the other. They are attracted to one another all over again, and are overjoyed and amazed to realize each other’s true identity. Keller’s (Cecil’s Garden, 2001, etc.) watercolor illustrations feature a bright pink caterpillar Farfallina, who turns into a glorious orange butterfly, and a realistically gray-brown Marcel against backgrounds of summery, outdoorsy blues and greens. This heartwarming, colorfully illustrated story underscores beautifully the power of true friendship without glossing over the reality that change is inevitable as friends grow and mature. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623932-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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