HOW THE CAT SWALLOWED THUNDER

An original pour quoi tale explaining why cats have the ability to purr, pleasing both themselves and their owners. The crafty feline in this story, Cat, is a lazy, mischievous sort who lives with Mother Holly, an incarnation of Mother Nature who has special responsibilities for all the creatures of the earth. While Mother Holly is tending to her business away from their cottage, Cat ignores his chores and disobeys the rules of the house, only to be met by mysterious forces of nature: an indoor rainstorm, whirling winds, flying popcorn, and a blizzard of both goose feathers and snowflakes. By the time he’s cleaned up all these natural disasters, the cottage is tidy except for one last unpopped kernel of corn, which he swallows in haste, causing that magical rumbling sound inside him, like thunder about to explode. Alexander’s (Gypsy Riska, 1999. etc) story has the ring of a traditional tale, but it’s Schachner’s (The Grannyman, 1999, etc.) bold illustrations that make Cat spring to life, with several double-page spreads of the cat pouncing, leaping, or standing on his head. The oversized format and lively story line make this a fine read-aloud for a group, although there are also tiny hidden details (including a pair of miniature trouble-making mice and a portrait of Alexander on the wall) that will reward those who read the book one-on-one with a child. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-46449-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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