CATS, CATS, CATS!

A celebration of all things feline, this frisky, rib-tickling picture book unveils the secret life of cats. In jaunty rhyming couplets, the author spins a tale about the elderly Mrs. Brown, who lives in a house full of cats—60 of them to be exact. Like all tabbies, Mrs. Brown’s darlings laze the days away, snoozing in every manner and every corner. From sunup to sundown, Mrs. Brown is surrounded by dormant felines. Yet when she retires for the evening, the languid cats spring to life. “As soon as she began to snore / The fun began with cats galore / Cats in the entryway throwing confetti / Cats in the dining room eating spaghetti.” While Mrs. Brown peacefully dozes, her cats have a boisterous bash. Kids and catlovers alike will be tickled pink by Newman’s comical depiction of the cats disporting themselves in a very human manner: knitting, writing, cooking, and even dancing. Oller’s watercolors, ranging in size from full-bleed to smaller vignettes delightfully inserted within the text, compliment the tale, reflecting the essence of cathood. Amorphously drawn creatures colored in a palette of soft hues lie prostrate upon every surface, conveying the unique boneless quality of slumbering felines. The upbeat tempo of the rhymes and the humor are infectious, and even those usually uninspired by felines will be hard-pressed to resist Newman’s convivial bunch. A whimsical tale perfect for cat fanciers young and old. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83077-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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