MAX ATTACKS

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

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 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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