A gentle feline tale aimed at a Christian audience.



A timid cat finds a forever home and learns what it means to be loved in this debut picture book.

In her work, Wakeman, who holds a master of divinity degree in Christian education, crafts the first-person tale of Bella, a homeless little cat, as a religious parable for young readers. Bella begins her narrative by introducing herself as a kitty who was once lonely and frightened, trying her best to survive rough weather and avoid danger. “I didn’t know I was lost…until I was found,” Bella says. Through clear and simple language, Wakeman brings Bella’s story to life, making it easy for readers to empathize with the shy cat as she describes her rescue from a precarious perch in a tree and, after a stay with a kind veterinarian, her slow adjustment to life in her new home. Despite kind treatment, Bella at first hides under the furniture, continuing to be terrified of every loud noise and fearful of petting. She runs away from her patient and gentle caretakers—until she finally understands, with purring acceptance, that she will always be loved. Knighton matches the tone of the soothing text with appealing watercolor illustrations featuring soft lines, rounded shapes, muted hues, and a diverse human cast. The placement of the images, some full page, some floating in circles against expansive white space, further complements the mood—as does Bella’s expressively fluffy tail. Bella ends her narrative with an upbeat afterword that addresses readers directly, telling them that they can be “found,” too, that they aren’t alone even in dark times. This reassurance closes with a biblical quote to underscore the message of faith within Wakeman’s Christian tale: “God’s perfect love takes away fear” (1 John 4:18). In her note to adults following the story, the author explains her motivation for writing the child-friendly parable: parents, she suggests, could use its “deeper meaning” to help their kids come “to know God as their Heavenly Father.”

A gentle feline tale aimed at a Christian audience. 

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62020-549-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Ambassador International

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2017

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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