Next book

MIGHTY ZOË

THE MISUNDERSTOOD PARROT

A pleasant, approachable portrait of a less-common type of pet.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A family learns what it takes to be good owners of a pet parrot in this picture book for elementary schoolers.

Zoë, a green-cheeked conure, is adopted by a mother with two children, several cats, and a dog. The bird quickly adopts Mama as her soul mate, and although the parrot doesn’t imitate human words, she seemingly answers questions with fervent nods. The family learns about the parrot’s preening behaviors, which include plucking hairs from Mama’s arm, and her tendency to splash around in her water. She also makes “grinding” noises with her beak, bites to warn of danger, and squawks when lonely. Lonczak reveals these actions in a matter-of-fact manner, never criticizing Zoë but instead focusing on the family’s reactions. Clever asides from Zoë’s perspective, such as her defense of spilling popcorn (“How am I supposed to grow the forest if she keeps cleaning up the seeds?!”) offer insight into bird psychology. The humans’ facial expressions in Varjotie’s cartoonlike, full-color illustrations sometimes seem unrealistic; Mama hardly reacts when Zoë bites her on the ear. The charming images of Zoë, though, capture the little bird’s big personality. A reference to Napoleon may puzzle young readers, though.

A pleasant, approachable portrait of a less-common type of pet.

Pub Date: July 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73446-877-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Next book

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Next book

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Close Quickview