With evident affection and sly humor, this paean to a beloved pet perfectly captures this (and thus every) cat’s allure.

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MY WILD CAT

An unseen (until the end) narrator describes a beloved cat; snippets of information about feline physiology and behavior are included.

Feline fanciers will be immediately charmed by the unnamed, yellow-eyed black cat who prowls the pages of this French import (and, in one utterly convincing portrait, sprawls atop a radiator in boneless comfort). Brief text describes typical cat activities; humorously contradictory illustrations add to the charm. Pictures of a sleeping cat across two spreads, for example, appear with this sentence: “When he runs // his athletic body propels him.” Declarative sentences employ sometimes-challenging vocabulary, including “vigilant” and “agile and acrobatic.” Occasionally split over two double-page spreads, the straightforward sentences move the book along smoothly despite a longer-than-usual format. Asterisked notes appear at the bottoms of most double-page spreads to provide basic information and some quirky details. Readers may skip them entirely with no negative impact, but they will likely add interest for some young listeners. Simler’s artwork, which has the appearance of drawings created with pastels, has a delightfully scratchy texture and displays an intriguing use of light, particularly in the nighttime scenes. Backgrounds are simply sketched, and abundant white space allows the text to stand out crisply. Bright colors and appealing details create a sense of the comfortable home where the cat and his companion dwell.

With evident affection and sly humor, this paean to a beloved pet perfectly captures this (and thus every) cat’s allure. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5525-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy.

COZY

An agreeable Alaskan musk ox embodies that old Ben Franklin adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

When Cozy the ox is separated from his herd in the midst of a winter storm, he decides to wait it out. His massive size and warmth attract small animals—a lemming family and a snowshoe hare—desperate to escape the cold. However, as bigger, predatory creatures arrive, Cozy must lay down some “house rules” that grow with each new creature that arrives until they extend to: “Quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others!” Over time, the guests grow antsy, but at last spring arrives and Cozy can find his family. The tale is not dissimilar to another Jan Brett tale of cold weather and animals squeezing into a small space (The Mitten, 1989). Meticulous watercolors refrain from anthropomorphizing, rendering everyone, from massive Cozy to the tiniest of lemmings, in exquisite detail. This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial. Brett even includes little details about real musk oxen in the text (such as their tendency to form protective circles to surround their vulnerable young), but readers hoping for further information in any backmatter will be disappointed. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.3% of actual size.)

For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10979-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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