DO YOU HAVE A CAT?

Vibrant illustrations of cats throughout the ages are the saving grace of this rhyming story that can’t quite get its focus straight. Each double-page spread presents one famous historical figure and his or her cat, with the occupation of each cat owner worked into the short text and additional historical or geographical context provided by the illustrations. The disparate cast of cat owners is from widely different eras, from Cleopatra to Albert Schweitzer, and the presentation is not organized chronologically, leading to a fragmented feeling for those who can place these figures in context. Additional biographical information is provided for each character on the endpapers, though the organization does not correspond to the order in the text, forcing readers to search through the pages for correlation. Despite these drawbacks, Valério’s acrylic paintings of the clever cats in action are a treat. His bold, loose style uses brilliant colors, lots of motion and witty details to bring the feline friends to life. Kids with cats will enjoy this, even if they don’t grasp much about the historical figures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5351-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A sweet confection through and through, from the glitter on the cover to the nonpareils on the endpapers.

PAT-A-CAKE BABY

Baby bakes.

This Caucasian baby, in a white onesie and a chef’s hat, is a self-proclaimed “cookie baby [and] pat-a-cake baby.” After nightfall, the baby proceeds to the kitchen, where three tiny candy friends are waiting. The rollicking, rhythmic text, which reads aloud in a most bouncy and satisfying way, dances and giggles all over the pages. Butter, sugar, eggs, milk, flour are shaken and strewn and sifted by baby and companions. The cake is baked and iced and served so deliciously that the Man in the Moon comes to share. Pastel candy colors abound, with stars and sprinkles. Wordplay is everywhere; the baby happily declares that they’re “frisking while we’re whisking ’til it’s flitter flotter fluffy.” After the cake’s in the oven, who can resist? “We’re scraping out the bowl / with an icky flicky licky / and oops we lick each other / and all of us are sticky.” This is accompanied by an image of baby and buddies all in the mixing bowl, licking their fingers. Perspective bends and stretches like a fun-house mirror (or taffy), and the relative sizes of kitchen tools and objects are a little dizzying. It’s good fun but definitely not quiet bedtime reading, especially since it concludes with multicolored capital letters spelling out “IT’S EATING TIME!”

A sweet confection through and through, from the glitter on the cover to the nonpareils on the endpapers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7577-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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