Clearly a paean to the pleasures of having a cat companion, this catalog of Max’s actions should win plenty of accolades:...

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MAX ATTACKS

A pet cat demonstrates typical feline behavior.

The orange and pink fish swimming in the fishbowl fascinate Max, pictured as a blue cat with black stripes. He is easily distracted, however, so his first foray to get the fish ends quickly when he takes a detour up the patio-door screen in pursuit of a lizard. The fact that he then pulls the curtains down on the dog’s head results in a comical tally: “Max, one. Dog, none.” The distractions (and the scorekeeping) continue. Max chases a catnip toy, battles a basket of socks, and pounces on a swinging shoestring. After each diversion, he returns to the fishbowl. His eventual assault appears to be successful, but the final reckoning reassures readers that the fish have survived to swish another day. Rollicking rhymes and playful language create an admiring third-person narrative that perfectly captures Max’s energy and charm. The typeface, which mimics painted block printing, adds personality and enhances the humor. Dullaghan’s illustrations suggest a spare, mid-20th-century modern home; lots of white space keeps the focus on the bouncy main character’s amusing antics. Textured brush strokes add to the sense of movement, while simply drawn features convey a wealth of emotion (even in the case of the unflappable fish).

Clearly a paean to the pleasures of having a cat companion, this catalog of Max’s actions should win plenty of accolades: Max, a million; readers a million-plus. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5146-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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