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PIG AND CAT ARE PALS

From the I Like To Read series

A book for emergent readers to befriend.

Can Pig and Cat’s friendship endure when Dog appears on the scene?

Many early readers include an odd-couple pair of friends whose interactions create the central drama of the plot. Not so in Florian’s latest offering: Pig and Cat enjoy all the same things, and they enjoy doing them together. Rather than presenting a clash due to individual differences, Florian boosts the tension when Pig befriends Dog and leaves Cat in the dust. The text reads, “Cat is all alone. / Cat is sad,” while accompanying crayon-and–colored-pencil illustrations use expressive techniques to isolate Cat and visually convey its sadness. The consciously childlike illustrations succeed in communicating emotion and offer many whimsical details that provide visual interest, but they may prove a bit busy for those working to find and decode the limited, controlled text on the pages, which seems aimed at the very newest of readers. This concern aside, readers of all abilities will grasp the story’s happy ending: although Pig doesn’t prove to be a terribly sensitive or attentive friend, Dog notices Cat’s distress and says, “You can play with us,” ushering in a conclusion in which “Pig and Cat and Dog are pals.”

A book for emergent readers to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3858-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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THE COOL BEAN MAKES A SPLASH

From the I Can Read! series

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind.

The cool beans again step up to do a timorous fellow legume a fava…this time at the pool.

Will a rash decision to tackle the multistory super-slide lead to another embarrassing watery fail for our shy protagonist? Nope, for up the stairs right behind comes a trio of cool beans, each a different type and color, all clad in nothing but dark shades. They make an offer: “It’s not as scary if you go with friends!” As the knobby nerd explains once the thrilling ride down is done, “They all realized that I just needed some encouragement and support.” Just to make sure that both cool and uncool readers get the message, the narrator lets us know that “there are plenty of kind folks who have my back. They’re always there when I need them.” The beany bonhomie doesn’t end at the bottom of the slide, with all gliding down to the shallow end of the pool (“3 INCHES. NO DIVING”) for a splashy finale. This latest early reader starring characters from John and Oswald’s immensely popular Food Group series will be a hit with fans. Fun accessories, such as a bean who rocks pink cat-eye frames, add some pizzazz to the chromatically and somatotypically varied cast.

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780063329560

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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