An oft-told tale told poorly.

THE NEW KITTEN

The puffy gray cat introduced in Naughty Cherie (illustrated by Mark Graham, 2008) learns to share her space and her humans.

Cherie’s family leaves the house, promising to return with a surprise. She hopes it’s tuna treats…but it’s Cleopatra, a kitten. “Her legs were very short and her tail was thin—not at all like Cherie’s big, fluffy tail. She did not have soft, long, gray fur like Cherie but very short, smooth, shiny fur.” Cherie does not like anything about Cleopatra, but young human JoJo and her parents think the little cutie can do no wrong, even when she’s making a mess. Cherie runs away, but after being treated shabbily by several wild animals (most of whom she would eat or be eaten by in reality), she returns home to snuggle, purring, with Cleopatra and JoJo. Award-winning novelist Oates throws down an astonishingly clumsy new-sibling picture book, wordy paragraphs displaying no trust whatsoever in her illustrator to help shoulder the narrative load. Mottram’s mostly realistic, soft-edged, digitally created illustrations are attractive, but his manga-eyed cats only serve to boost the treacle factor. Readers tempted by the title and the author’s reputation will be sorely disappointed—Susin Nielsen and Olivia Chin Mueller’s recent Princess Puffybottom…and Darryl (2019) is ears and tails better than this.

An oft-told tale told poorly. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-256392-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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