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THE BEST WORST POET EVER

Delightful.

An interspecies war of verse!

An orange-and-white cat channels Shakespeare, feathered quill in paw, while his creative nemesis—a pug—clacks away at a green typewriter. The origin of the two foes’ conflict isn’t quite clear, but they battle in rhyming couplets, haiku, and galloping verse. “I hope it shan’t disturb you that I plan to write some poems today,” Cat begins. “I hope it ‘shan’t’ disturb you, Cat, that I intend to do the same,” Pug retorts. The ensuing scansion and prosody are remarkable, making for a truly rollicking read-aloud with extreme emotional highs. Both animals are fat and joyous, Cat’s dignity neatly offset by Pug’s crude hilarity: “Can I write a poem with my butt? / I don’t know! / Oh can I write a poem with my butt? / Here I go!” In the illustration, Pug’s fuzzy posterior hovers above the typewriter. There are even some moments of poetic instruction toward the end, when the two animals reconcile their differences and collaborate: “If a line is too long… / then we can enjamb it! / If a rhyme’s almost rhyming… / it’s not wrong; it’s just slanted!” It starts to drag in the middle, as this is slightly longer than an average picture book, but there’s plenty of humor and energy to keep audiences large and small enthralled.

Delightful. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4628-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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A LIBRARY

A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter.

A love letter to libraries.

A Black child, with hair in two puffballs tied with yellow ribbons, a blue dress with a Peter Pan collar, and black patent leather Mary Janes, helps Grandmother with the housework, then, at Grandmother’s suggestion, heads to the library. The child’s eagerness to go, with two books under an arm and one in their hand, suggests that this is a favorite destination. The books’ wordless covers emphasize their endless possibilities. The protagonist’s description of the library makes clear that they are always free to be themselves there—whether they feel happy or sad, whether they’re reading mysteries or recipes, and whether they feel “quick and smart” or “contained and cautious.” Robinson’s vibrant, carefully composed digital illustrations, with bright colors that invite readers in and textures and patterns in every image, effectively capture the protagonist’s passion for reading and appreciation for a space where they feel accepted regardless of disposition. In her author’s note, Giovanni states that she spent summers visiting her grandmother in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she went to the Carnegie Branch of the Lawson McGhee Library. She expresses gratitude for Mrs. Long, the librarian, who often traveled to the main library to get books that Giovanni could not find in their segregated branch. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-38765-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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