GOODBYE MOG

Readers who remember Mog from Kerr’s long popular and recently reissued Mog the Forgetful Cat will be both happy and sad to see this final episode in the long series by the British author/illustrator. As the title, cover art (Mog floating in a starry sky), and opening sentences (“Mog was tired. She was dead tired . . . I want to sleep for ever”) not too subtly foreshadow, Mog is ready to die. Being a curious cat, a part of her “stayed awake” to see what would happen in the Thomas house. After a period of mourning, Mrs. Thomas brings home a kitten that has a hard time adjusting. Afraid of newspaper, noise, and being held, it is most comfortable hiding under the couch. It’s a good thing that Mog is still keeping an eye on things. After a brief jealous period, she takes heart (“I knew they’d never manage without me. I’m going in”) and models proper behavior for the kitten, including jumping, hiding under newspapers, and playing with bags. Mog also pushes the still-shy kitten into Debbie Thomas’s arms for some petting, which it discovers it likes. Finally, Rumpus is ready to become the new family pet. Debbie Thomas notes, “I’ll always remember Mog,” and the never-humble Mog leaves this earth thinking, “So I should hope.” Now Mog is able to take the last part of her journey, as “she flew up and up and up and up right into the sun.” Although Mog’s slightly ghost-like celestial presence is easily spotted in each picture and each family member does weep following Mog’s death, there is nothing scary or overwhelmingly morose here. Kerr’s understated humor and cheery, cartoon-like illustrations make the mood more sweet than sentimental or frightening. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-00-714968-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Hee haw.

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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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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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