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CHATTAHOOCHEE CATS

A disorienting and inconsistent tale of animal friendships.

Two kittens move to a new home and make new friends in Guberman’s children’s novella.

Young felines Meriwether and Camille live with their mother, Pearl, and their siblings. After their brothers and sisters are adopted,Pearl, Camille, and Meriwether move with their human owners to Chattahoochee, Florida. There, they live in a new barn and become involved in various adventures. Guberman’s book has some strong sections early on, such as a sequence in which a river’s fast current whisks the kittens away until a river keeper saves them by extending a tree branch: “Using all their strength, the kittens catch the branch and hold onto its rough bark.” However, things become distractingly fantastical in the book’s latter half. Up to that point, the narrative sticks to semirealistic scenarios, such as Meriwether and Camille’s befriending a cat on a leash, encountering a dog who loves chasing cats, and having a play date with a new feline pal. Even a section involving a bear cub lost from the zoo feels of a piece with what’s been established so far. But after that, the kittens travel to Atlanta, board a blimp at a zoo, and end up in the Amazon rainforest, where they meet an alligator with a rainbow coming out of his mouth—which the kittens use to return to Georgia, where they start attending school. The problem with this story isn’t the inclusion of fantastical elements, per se, but the abruptness with which they’re introduced relatively late in the story. Overall, the story feels convoluted and confusing; indeed, it could have easily been three separate books. Mitchell’s cartoon line drawings at the start of each chapter clearly represent the story’s events.

A disorienting and inconsistent tale of animal friendships.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2021

ISBN: 9781954805088

Page Count: 99

Publisher: Bold Story Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2023

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WINNIE-THE-POOH

Pull this out whenever you or someone nearby could use some joy and clever comics.

No public-domain tomfoolery here; this adaptation is an act of love.

An innocent, shirtless bear wanders through a forest. His blank, dot-eyed face is as aimless as his gait, although he is not without purpose: the location and consumption of honey. Woodland friends Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, Roo, and Rabbit all have encounters with this silly bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, often to lend each other a hand in friendship or in pursuit of a Woozle or Heffalump. The mixture of personalities balances the sugar-sweetness of the genteel adventures, from the morose Eeyore to the verbose Owl. Rabbit has mean intentions for Kanga and her baby Roo, but they never escalate beyond playful mischief. Christopher Robin, who’s drawn with paper-white skin, is the comparably capable human who cheerfully gets along with the many anthropomorphic animals. Dandro’s black-and-white artwork skillfully renders the forests, fields, and streams of the outdoor setting while amplifying the playful dialogue with precisely timed pauses. The inventive use of layouts and paneling makes this an adept adaptation of Milne’s text to the graphic format. That silly old bear has learned some new tricks, and they may inspire a new generation of readers to discover the delights of Milne and Ernest H. Shepard’s original volumes.

Pull this out whenever you or someone nearby could use some joy and clever comics. (Graphic fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781770466968

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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CODY HARMON, KING OF PETS

From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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