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PAUL & ANTOINETTE

That each little pig thoroughly subverts gender stereotypes is simply icing on one perfectly delightful cake

Two sibling pigs who couldn’t be more different spend the day together.

Paul is a neatnik who loves to make “sure everything is sparkling and in its place.” Antoinette likes cleaning too, so long as it involves “licking the plates and sticky knives” after she’s made her Two-Taste Toasts. Paul’s idea of a good day is tweezing the parts of a model ship into place. Antoinette’s is finding dead birds, bugs, and beetles. When Antoinette finally hauls Paul outside, “he’s inspired to think deeply about Ikebana,” while she licks a snail, names it Edmond, and then tucks it into her pocket. Working in deeply hued watercolors, Kerascoët (duo Marie Pommepuy and Sébastian Cosset) creates an appealing, adult-free world, neatly expanding on their wry text. When Antoinette throws herself at what Paul sees as a “ferocious beast”—perhaps a bison, yeti, or werewolf—readers see an enormous, benign brown dog. Boisterous Antoinette has a perpetual (if ever changing) stain around her mouth; prim Paul wears glasses. It would be easy to paint Paul as an irredeemable prig, simply a foil to the dynamic Antoinette, but Kerascoët refrains, simply endowing each little pig with oodles of personality, however contrasting; Antoinette splashes in every mud puddle, while Paul leaps “elegantly over each” one. No matter the differences, the affection between the siblings is manifest.

That each little pig thoroughly subverts gender stereotypes is simply icing on one perfectly delightful cake . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-196-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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