KETZEL, THE CAT WHO COMPOSED

A cat strolls down a piano keyboard and saunters into musical history.

Composer Moshe Cotel finds a stray kitten near his home and dubs her Ketzel, Yiddish for “little cat.” One day a letter arrives, announcing a contest for a piece lasting one minute or less. Moshe toils away at his piano, but nothing he composes meets the time limit, and he gives up. Aiming to pounce on the grievous paper—Ketzel just knows it’s causing her guardian’s distress—she walks across the keys to reach the table where the letter lies. Little does she know what she’s wrought. Moshe is astounded by what he’s heard, immediately reproduces the notes on paper, and mails the “composition” off. In time another letter arrives—congratulating Ketzel on her award of “a certificate of special mention” for her “creative instinct and imagination.” There’s more: “Piece for Piano: Four Paws,” will be performed! News of Ketzel’s extraordinary achievement spreads, and she receives a royalty check that buys a bounty of cat food. This adorable account is as warm and fuzzy as Ketzel herself and all the sweeter because it’s based on fact. The watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations suit the text perfectly, delightfully capturing Ketzel’s furriness, the story’s charming, lively energy, and Moshe and the “composer’s” loving friendship.

Truly, the cat’s meow. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6555-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 23

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more