An odd mixture of animal fantasy, music appreciation, sentimental story and (minor) problem novel, this bland concoction is...

CAT IN THE CITY

Adult author and former New York Times reporter Salamon places a cat at the center of her beloved city in her first effort for young readers.

First seen as a straggly stray, hungry and discouraged, Pretty Boy is the central figure in a rambling storyline that crams in too many characters and coincidences but not enough child appeal. The cast includes two shopkeepers, three dogs and their walker, a family of four that has recently moved to the city and an elderly cello player. The tone is matter-of-fact (though the animals can speak to one another), and the plot unfolds predictably. Pretty Boy finds a home—eventually—and some of the people connect in meaningful ways. The friendly dogs, Maggie, Roxie and Henry, outshine the feline hero with snappy dialogue and distinct personalities, while Sam, aka the Cello Man, is the most sympathetic and interesting of the humans. Full-color, single-page illustrations and vignettes with a pleasantly naïve look appear throughout, reflecting the action. Unfortunately they run the risk of limiting the audience further, as some readers may find them childish.

An odd mixture of animal fantasy, music appreciation, sentimental story and (minor) problem novel, this bland concoction is clearly intended to charm but just as clearly misses the mark. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4056-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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