THE CURIOUS DEMISE OF A CONTRARY CAT

Few creatures can flaunt disdain like a contrary cat, and this rhyming tale of a test of wills between Witch and her pet proves it. Witch is dressing for a bash: “ ‘Cat,’ said Witch, ‘fetch me a hat!’ But Cat was busy, chasing Rat.” For each of Witch’s requests—chair, hat, fife, cloak, broom and toad—Cat is busy pursuing Bat, Ghost, Troll, Spook and Gnomes. “DRAT THAT CAT!” As the tale and tail become more tangled, comeuppance for Cat is within paw’s reach, ending in a surprise transformation. The real cat’s meow here is the exaggerated black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations that portray every wart, gremlin and eerie monstrosity with delicious delight. Reminiscent of Boris and Natasha cartoons, the melodramatic mockery is made for multiple readings with chants for joining in. No pussyfooting around, this is an out-and-out outlandish, original opus of pure fun and witchery that will have kids spellbound. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0211-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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CHATO'S KITCHEN

Chato and Novio Boy, low-riding East Los Angeles homeboys of the feline variety, have dinner guests. The invitees, a family of five fat mice who just moved in next door, haven't an inkling that they are the intended main course. But when the mice bring along their friend Chorizo (a worldly mutt in a slouch beret) to share the grub, he thwarts the cats' connivings. This unlikely three- species chow-down is a sweet salute to Spanish cooking, with fajitas, frijoles, and quesadillas sharing center stage. Soto delivers a spare, clever text; the words skip like stones across water—``His tail began to swing to the rhythm. He felt the twinge of mambo in his hips.'' Guevara's swarming, luxuriant illustrations give the atmosphere palpability, with brushstrokes so fresh readers will want to stick their fingers in the paint to feel its texture. Menace hangs in the air; the artist mixes the sinisterness of R. Crumb with moments of Edvard Munch terror, yet it seems likely from the outset that the mice are more than capable of looking after themselves. Incidental touches—little devils and angels darting about, a bird wedding glimpsed through a window—are there for the sharp-eyed. Smart, with a nice edge. Soto's inspired finger-snapping prose has found an equally imaginative comrade in Guevara's colorful urban paintings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-22658-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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