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

READ REVIEW

How BJ Diana Came to Live at the Z House

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

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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