WIDGET

Widget, a small, stray, furry white dog the size of a West Highland terrier, finds the perfect home with Mrs. Diggs. Unfortunately, six cats that she calls collectively “the girls” already reside with her. Wandering through a cat door of the cozy cottage and spying six bowls of food, six comfy cat beds, and six cats, Widget makes a beeline for the food, but Mrs. Diggs blocks his path. “Why, you poor thing,” says Mrs. Diggs. “I wish you could stay. But I am afraid the girls just can’t stand dogs.” Widget really wants to stay: “ ‘Meow?’ said Widget.” Putting on his best cat imitation, when the girls puff up and hiss, so does he. When the girls growl, Widget purrs. Before long, the girls accept Widget as one of their own and they play, eat, and chase mice together. Shocked and dismayed when Mrs. Diggs falls and needs help, it is then that the girls discover there are times when only a dog will do. McFarland’s (Pirate’s Parrot, 2000) soft watercolors offer an expressive line of animal movements and facial expressions to support the quiet humor. This is a delightful read-aloud with short, pithy sentences and illustrations that place the reader right at eye-level with the animals’ point of view, only glimpsing Mrs. Diggs, but rarely above the knees. The girls, having learned how, would surely give three barks for Widget. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-38428-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The gentle ending, with pony and friends cuddled up for bed, slows the trotting long enough— just the way a book for...

NONI THE PONY

Noni, friendly and funny, is the perfect pony for preschoolers.

Like Noni herself, the light rhyme, bustling with rhythm and easy to read, is friendly and funny. Lester’s art, which shows every apple, carrot, cow and hen she mentions in her text, invites new readers and horse-loving listeners to join Noni and her best friends, Dave Dog and Coco the Cat, in their play. Each couplet is accompanied by Lester’s droll illustrations. The animals appear humorously flat, almost as if Lester cut them out and glued them in by hand. The movements are exaggerated and at times remarkably unhorselike. The cover is especially amusing, showing Noni doing a split in midair. “They ambush each other and play hide-and-seek, / racing and chasing and jumping the creek,” is illustrated with arrows and dotted lines to show the movement of the animal friends, while subtle eye movements let the reader know exactly who is hiding from whom. The layout, just one couplet per spread with every word illustrated, is perfect for anxious youngsters who want to prance through stories over and over again but not linger too long on any page.

The gentle ending, with pony and friends cuddled up for bed, slows the trotting long enough— just the way a book for toddlers should end. Night-night, Noni. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5959-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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