MEOW

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CATS

With cat-sized props placed against boldly colored backgrounds—such as a claw-foot bathtub (with gilt cats for feet) just big enough for three kittens—internationally renowned photographer Reinen’s attention-grabbing photos offer cat-lovers their fill of felines at play and rest. What this doesn’t have is a real story, but the day-in-the-life construct gives the author enough of a framework to showcase her intentionally cute photographs, which call to mind William Wegman’s dog pictures. Plot or no, children will nevertheless giggle over the photos of cats doing exactly what they might do themselves on a typical day: eat breakfast, take a bath, and go to school. The real humor comes when children know enough about natural cat behavior to realize that cats do not bathe in bathtubs; that loving to knit does not mean ending up entangled in a skein of mohair yarn; and that being “a big help in the garden” shouldn’t result in flowers sitting next to now-empty flowerpots. The breeds of the pictured felines are identified on the verso of the title page. It is impossible to determine what came first in this effort—the pictures or the text—since many of the photos appear on the author’s Web site. Plenty of adult appeal, especially the stack of books suitable for bedtime stories: World Catlas, Looking Out the Cat Door: A Retrospective, How to Claw Your Way to The Top, and Canaries and You by Bud & Jerry Garr. Cat-lovers may return to this, but others may find that one day is enough. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-83342-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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