The plot is familiar, but energetic artwork and a comical twist at the end may make it feel fresh enough to entertain a new...

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RED CAT BLUE CAT

Feline enemies become firm friends in this predictable but potentially pleasing debut.

Bright, blotchy, child-like pictures show a stripy red cat and a spotted blue cat that live on separate floors of a sketchily drawn house. The cause of friction between them isn’t clear, but readers are quickly informed that despite their scrapping, each is secretly envious of the other. Blue Cat wants to be “fast and bouncy like Red Cat,” while Red Cat “wishe[s] he were as smart as Blue Cat.” Each tries to change color, believing that will change their attributes. But eating appropriately colored food, rolling in paint and/or dressing up, although mildly amusing, doesn’t change anything. Working together to get clean and comfortable, however, does the trick (not entirely convincingly), and soon the two are sharing advice on how to be more active and/or clever. Like the text, Desmond’s playful illustrations are straightforward. Multiple vignettes on most pages appear to incorporate paint, ink and some printed papers with the two title colors dominating, but there’s plenty of white space as well. One small portrait shows the family that likely lives in the house too, but the focus remains firmly on the fractious cats.

The plot is familiar, but energetic artwork and a comical twist at the end may make it feel fresh enough to entertain a new generation of feline fanciers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60905-248-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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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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