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

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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Hee haw.

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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