It’s the first five minutes of Disney’s Up for cat lovers—but with a happy ending.

PRETTY KITTY

A lonely, old man fends off the affections of an increasing number of stray kitties.

“Old man. / Big city. / Pretty kitty. / Pretty little itty-bitty / kitty cat. / Pretty kitty. Wants a pat. / Don’t you look at me like that. / I do not want a kitty cat. / SCAT!” Naturally, when the unnamed protagonist gets home, there are two meowing felines on his welcome mat, and he rebuffs them similarly. The pussycats are joined by a third. “Might have FLEAS. / Or some DISEASE. / Think you might be SIAMESE.” Again he tells them to scat. As each new puss arrives, he offers a different excuse for why he doesn’t want a cat—but sharp-eyed readers will note mementos in his house that hint of at least one cat in his past. With 10 on his mat, it starts to snow…and it turns out, one old guy has enough love for 10 cats, and they’re good for snuggles. Beaumont’s rhyme makes for a rollicking read as the protagonist’s resolve to stay alone is slowly cracked by cuteness. Laberis’ digitally created illustrations, a mix of spot and full-bleed, are irresistible in their scratchy, cartoon colorfulness, imbuing the big city with warmth. The old man is white and balding, with a fluffy gray mustache beneath an absurdly large nose.

It’s the first five minutes of Disney’s Up for cat lovers—but with a happy ending. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9232-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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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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