Ailurophobes won’t be swayed, but feline fanciers will lap this up and look forward to repeat servings.


Cat lovers will recognize their favorite feline attributes (as well as those they’re less fond of) in this amusing “cat”-alog.

Presented as advice to a trio of new (kitten) residents from Buddy, a charming marmalade cat, the first-person narration pokes fun at peoples’ foibles and extols the virtues of cats large and small. One double-page spread contrasts the abilities and physiology of cats and humans; another shows the history of cats from their first appearance through the glories of Egypt and the bad times of the Dark Ages to the present day; a third showcases cats of all kinds from domesticated breeds to a lion, tiger, lynx and other big cats. Buddy also explains the mysteries of cat communication, from body language through the power of purrs, and provides a list of ways to keep caretakers on their toes (don’t miss the vignette that pays homage to Ezra Jack Keats’ Kitten for a Day). Talbott’s cartoon-style illustrations feature round-eyed kittens and a sly, smugly smiling Buddy. They lack detailed backgrounds, keeping the pages feeling clean. His human characters, a (stereo)typical family, are over-the-top in their admiration for Buddy, which adds to the humor and, along with the faux-instructional tone, creates continuity.

Ailurophobes won’t be swayed, but feline fanciers will lap this up and look forward to repeat servings. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25403-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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 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. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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