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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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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