How BJ Diana Came to Live at the Z House

A quirky story about a cat with a mind of her own.

An animal-loving family meets a spunky cat in an illustrated comedy of errors.

The Z house has always been a haven for wayward critters, but with seven fish, three cats, one dog and a few backyard raccoons, Mom Z and her son, Noah, have decided that the house is full. When a stray cat starts to pay visits to the yard, Mom Z tries to shoo her away, but the little cat is stubborn. Before Mom Z knows it, the cat has claimed a favorite spot in the Z family's lawn chair, and she quickly becomes a regular visitor to the backyard. Mom Z and Noah are unable to locate the cat's owners, so they decide to have her fixed. A few days after her surgery, the cat escapes, and Mom Z and Noah are frantic—until they get a phone call from the vet. They soon learn that the cat had “escaped” back to her owner, who believes the surgical scar is the result of alien interference. Mom Z and Noah are willing to relinquish ownership, but the cat has other ideas, and it's not long before she wanders back to the Z’s yard. Before long, Mom Z and Noah find themselves entangled in a web of not two, but three prospective owners, and it will be up to the cat to decide which house to call home. Stommel and Czekalski's cartoonish illustrations perfectly match the tone of this wacky, upbeat children's book, which is full of odd surprises and strange turns of events. Though the plot twists set the book apart, some of the strangest moments—such as the owner's belief that her cat was operated on by aliens—are mentioned so quickly that they feel out of place and jarring. Zanville (How the Dog Came to the Z House, 2013, etc.) is careful to maintain a frank and child-friendly tone as she explains the surgery and visits to the vet's office, but particularly sensitive readers may be put off by the graphic illustration of the scar and by the cat's willingness to leave her owners.

A quirky story about a cat with a mind of her own.

Pub Date: July 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475140774

Page Count: 38

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2014

Categories:

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Close Quickview