A charming tale, particularly for fans of the legendary hotel.

HAMLET

THE ALGONQUIN CAT

A stray cat wonders if he has what it takes to be the feline-in-residence at the Algonquin Hotel in this illustrated children’s-book sequel.

One day, a scruffy orange tomcat is on the street; the next, he’s the new “Algonquin Cat” at the famed New York City hotel, now that Matilda is retiring. Since 1932, there have been 11 such cats, with the females named Matilda and the males, Hamlet. Matilda shows the new Hamlet how to greet guests and flatter them. But he wonders if it’s all a mistake: “I am clumsy and I snore.” Matilda reminds him that all Algonquin felines were once street cats and recommends drawing courage from the famous Round Table. While snoozing below it, he hears a disembodied voice: “Do not be afraid. It is time to take your place.” Heartened, he confidently steps into his role. Two final pages supply background on the hotel and the Algonquin Cat tradition. Martini (Matilda the Algonquin Cat, 2016) offers a pleasing fable about feeling worthy when good fortune comes one’s way. This outing is less hotel-focused than the previous installment, but it still conveys the Algonquin’s special flavor. Gentle humor nicely balances Hamlet’s moments of anxiety. Mongiardo’s simple but effective tricolor illustrations beautifully convey Hamlet’s personality and the hotel’s appeal.

A charming tale, particularly for fans of the legendary hotel.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944903-47-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roundtree Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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