Overall, an agreeable world tour.

READ REVIEW

FELIX

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 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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