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

MIGHTY ZOË

THE MISUNDERSTOOD PARROT

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

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

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

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

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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