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FELIX

Overall, an agreeable world tour.

A house cat with just two lives left visits his extended family around the world.

Felix numbers among his many friends the cushions he sleeps on and his owner’s legs, but one hot night he decides to meet those family members he’s never seen. He leaves “the way cats always leave when they want to see the world—silently, through a little door in the darkness.” In India, he visits the Tigers, eats shrimp, and drinks mango juice; in China, he has tea and herrings with Mr. and Mrs. Snow Leopard; in Russia, Mr. Lynx offers him blini; in the United States, he has steak with Mr. Puma; in Brazil, his “mysterious” cousin the panther gives him kebabs; and on the African savanna, he catches up on his sleep with a pride of lions. Felix’s travelogue shares many of the faults of the form—the relegation of cultural nuance to named foodstuffs, a whiff of exoticism, and, in particular, the equation of Africa to individual countries—but its presumably European perspective (this is an Italian import) means that American readers are treated to a vision of the U.S. that’s as reductive as all too many U.S. travelogues are of the rest of the world. Mulazzani’s luscious paintings place gray Felix (clad in blue vest and ever changing plaid shorts) in dreamlike yet friendly global scenarios. Zoboli’s text in Watkinson’s translation is just as plush and whimsical.

Overall, an agreeable world tour. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5506-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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