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BIJOU, BONBON AND BEAU

THE KITTENS WHO DANCED FOR DEGAS

A desperate, pregnant mother cat seeks shelter in a Parisian theater, just in time to provide a home for her kittens. There the ballerinas fall in love with the little feline fuzzballs, calling the mother Marmalade and her kittens Bijou, Bonbon, and Beau. When the stage manager threatens to throw the cats out, the dancers defend them utterly. All the while, an artist (Degas) quietly sketches what he sees. When opening night arrives, the kittens decide to participate, climbing the dancers’ stockings, chasing their toes, and even cavorting across Degas’s drawing board. The audience loves it, and the kittens become a mainstay of the ballet. The cotton-candy, tutu pastels of Wu’s palette create the mood of Degas’s work without copying it. Brief biographical information on the artist accompanies an elegant reproduction of his work, The Rehearsal on Stage, where readers are urged to hunt for alleged evidence of the kittens’ joyful rampage across the artist’s page. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8118-1975-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1998

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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