Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only.



From the Pete the Cat series

A string of aphorisms and inspirational quotations are glossed and illustrated by that groovy blue cat.

The results are predictably simplistic. Pablo Picasso’s “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” is reduced by Pete to “It’s cool to color outside the lines!” The picture Pete is coloring in the accompanying illustration looks generically childlike, with no hint of cubist genius nor even many violations of the lines. Confucius’ “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” becomes “Keep it simple! Chill out!”; Pete lolls in a hammock and lifts a glass in one fingerless paw. That attitude carries over in demeanor if not setting for Thomas Edison’s wry and pointed “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Pete, duly dressed in overalls, perches on a tractor. Though he tells readers, “Amazing things happen when you work hard!” his trademark heavy-lidded, couldn’t-care-less gaze does not bespeak a hard worker; unsurprisingly, there is no hint of anything “amazing” in the surrounding picture, which is just a wash of green. Trite though many of these sayings have become, they still offer far more opportunities for invention and illustration than Dean seems able to find in them.

Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only. (Picture book. 4-84)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-235135-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

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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. 29, 2018

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


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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