CAT AND RAT

THE LEGEND OF THE CHINESE ZODIAC

According to the notes at the beginning of the book, when the Chinese calendar was created, the animals ran a race, and the 12 who came in first had a year named after them. Young (Little Plum, 1994, etc.) describes the race, focusing on the cat and the rat; despite their plans to win together, the rat dumped the cat and came in first, while the cat was the 13th animal to finish. Thus, the cat and rat are forever enemies. As animal after animal crosses the finish line, the story becomes mechanical and then tedious. The illustrationscharcoal and pastels on rice paperare very dark and among the most abstract Young has every created; they depict animals in motion (predominantly their heads, with bulging eyes) at the end of the race. The text is printed along the side of page, black on white. Inclusion of a page of horoscopes along with the Gregorian equivalents to the animals' years will intrigue readers, but the story may not keep them involved to the end. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8050-2977-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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MY LUCKY DAY

It’s become predictable, this story of the pig outfoxing the fox, but Kasza’s version does sport his lively art and a measure of dry humor. When a piglet comes knocking on Mr. Fox’s door, the fox can’t believe his luck; he’s not used to delivery service. The piglet is just about to be tucked in the oven, when he suggests a few improvements to Mr. Fox. Wouldn’t he taste better if he were washed first—“Just a thought, Mr. Fox”—and plumped up and perhaps massaged to tenderize the meat? The fox agrees that he would, rushing madly about scrubbing, feeding, and working the piglet’s tissues, and promptly falling into an exhausted swoon. The pig is last seen back in his pen, thumbing through his address book—Mr. Bear, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Coyote—getting ready to work the same ruse on another carnivore. Fun enough, though no self-respecting four-year-old will be very worried about this little porker’s fate. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23874-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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