ETHAN AND THE STRAYS

A worthy message about managing the population of street cats marred by flat writing.

Ethan and his older brother, Sam, are walking to school on a city street when Ethan notices several stray cats.

Ethan asks Sam if he thinks their father would allow them to get a pet cat. Sam attempts to dissuade him (“These cats aren’t pets”), but Ethan can’t stop thinking about them. He stops by to see them and gives them names. “Misty is curious, Fluffy is shy, and the littlest, Dusty, is bold.” When the boys visit the library, Ethan learns about cats’ needs and later notices a sign outside the animal clinic: “TRAP NEUTER RETURN.” Sam explains that neuter means preventing cats from having kittens, and the boys enter the clinic. They leave with three humane traps, entice the cats with tuna, and accompany them to the clinic to ensure that the strays will not bring new kittens into the world. Although the information on trap-neuter-return in the backmatter instructs readers to ask clinics about volunteers who might assist them, the boys carry out the mission by themselves. Adults—such as the vet and the boys’ father—are mentioned, but none appear in the cartoonish, mixed-media illustrations. Though the subject matter is appealing, the didactic, purposeful text likely won’t interest most readers. The brothers have dark brown skin and curly hair.

A worthy message about managing the population of street cats marred by flat writing. (resources) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781534471320

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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