A high-interest story with a gentle message that is sure to appeal to animal lovers.

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BATCAT AND THE SEVEN SQUIRRELS

After he finds an orphaned baby squirrel clinging to a screen door, Nathan and his parents decide to care for the animal.

Realizing that there might be more than just one orphan, they search the nearby trees and discover six others. They become foster parents to the litter, a process that is described in limited detail. Nathan, who is almost 8 and depicted as white on the cover, has been yearning for a pet, but his parents assure him that these wild animals are not candidates for the role. Batcat, a neighborhood stray, seems like a more appropriate choice. When the battered old tom begins defending the litter of squirrels and then taking a major interest in their well-being, it cements a developing relationship between Nathan’s family and the needy but independent cat. In simple text, and accompanied by at least one attractive, soft-edged black-and-white drawing per brief chapter, veteran author Walters relates a true tale from his own childhood. Nathan’s contented relationship with his parents provides a quiet, tender backdrop to the squirrel and cat tale. His parents’ matter-of-fact ways of handling these animal challenges are both endearing and instructive as they calmly pick up information from the internet and then put it to best use.

A high-interest story with a gentle message that is sure to appeal to animal lovers. (author’s note) (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1255-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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