I WALK AT NIGHT

A first-person narration puts forth an imagined version of a cat’s inner thoughts as it prowls through the night, and the events are more hushed than the horror-movie title implies. In spare, irregular rhyme, Duncan (Trapped!, 1998, etc.) leads readers on a walk as a house cat goes to “tread on silken toes,” “lap from china bowls,” or “dream of birds and fishes.” The text, while hardly warranting an entire picture book, sets a mood for the tranquil, moon-drenched oil paintings. Each spread is so soundless, it will have readers tiptoeing through the pages, imagining the soft padding of cat feet or the mysterious mewing of a contented kitty. Outlines of string give the cat cunning definition, as do blocks of color that create an unbroken sense of night, subtly laced with a smattering of block-printed stars, moons, and clover. While the cozy paintings are sure to please, the oddly unsatisfying poem hovers around the edges, hinting at the mysterious nature of felines, but failing to deliver adventure, surprise, or true delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-87513-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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THE BARN OWLS

From Johnston (An Old Shell, 1999, etc.), poetic phrases that follow a ghostly barn owl through days and nights, suns and moons. Barn owls have been nesting and roosting, hunting and hatching in the barn and its surroundings for as long as the barn has housed spiders, as long as the wheat fields have housed mice, “a hundred years at least.” The repetition of alliterative words and the hushed hues of the watercolors evoke the soundless, timeless realm of the night owl through a series of spectral scenes. Short, staccato strings of verbs describe the age-old actions and cycles of barn owls, who forever “grow up/and sleep/and wake/and blink/and hunt for mice.” Honey-colored, diffused light glows in contrast to the star-filled night scenes of barn owls blinking awake. A glimpse into the hidden campestral world of the elusive barn owl. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-981-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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