An accessible, humorous tale of family changes—animal or otherwise.

Three new dogs move into a house cat’s home territory.

With a veritably “purrfect” life, Catalina rules the roost. The marmalade cat does what she wants: eats whenever, plays with toys whenever, and naps whenever. Most of the time, her humans leave her home alone, and Catalina can get “a little blue.” Her humans eventually take notice. But when they bring home three Labrador retriever puppies as a solution, they may have overdone it. Catalina finds the pups—Fogo, Burin, and Amherst—to be “too loud, too big, and too many.” As the dogs take over her space and throw off her routine, Catalina gets “cranky.” She gets “contrary.” She gets “CROOKED!” But can she learn to be a good housemate? This Newfoundland import is distinctive, with its childlike cartoon art, small trim size, bold colors, and spare use of black outlines. Two dollhouse-esque cutaway spreads effectively (and hilariously) convey the pets’ personalities. The simplified interior design—aside from loud, repeated patterns—draws focus to the animals. Hidden details cue readers that the humans (shown only from the waist or chest down) are expecting a baby. (One human has pale skin and the other has brown skin; strangely, a sketched photograph on the couples’ nightstand shows them both as White.) A brief glossary explains some of the regionalisms used in the book.

An accessible, humorous tale of family changes—animal or otherwise. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-927917-41-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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