A pleasing reminder that finding a new point of view can create positive change.

READ REVIEW

THE CATAWAMPUS CAT

A sideways-leaning cat strolls into town and sparks a revolution in perspective.

The simply drawn gray cat with a small smile and pinpoint eyes peers at readers from the bottom-right corner of the cover—at an angle, of course. While his appearance is unremarked upon at first, soon enough the grocer, the barber, a house painter, and numerous others find their lives being sent off-kilter (in a good way) simply because they notice the cat’s unusual orientation. A lost ring is found and a romance rekindled, a new hairstyle is created, and a standard paint job turns avant-garde. Gordon’s busy, collage-style multimedia illustrations combine line drawings, photographs, vintage images, and painted effects to create the bustling town, its energetic inhabitants, and the nonchalant feline at the center of the story. Eaton’s clever, quirky, peripatetic text, meanwhile, winds on to an amusing, outlandish conclusion as the new viewpoint is adopted and celebrated by all. Feline fanciers won’t be surprised to discover that the cat finds a way to express his nonconformity and independence even in the midst of all the hoopla. While much of the wordplay and humor will be enjoyed chiefly by adult readers, young listeners will likely enjoy poring over the detail-filled artwork.

A pleasing reminder that finding a new point of view can create positive change. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-50971-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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