Intriguing peek into the secret life of cats.

CAT IN THE NIGHT

A cat relies on his senses during a nocturnal foray.

As a little black girl falls asleep, Rusty, her cat, wakes up, slips out the window, and instantly smells an intruding cat. Intent on the other feline, Rusty avoids a skunk and leaps onto the backyard fence. Leaving his scent as he “tiptoes along its ledge like a tightrope walker in a circus,” Rusty tracks the cat’s scent into the neighbor’s yard, where two raccoons are playing. Temporarily diverted by a high-pitched squeak and quick mouse hunt, Rusty watches an opossum disappear into the bushes. Finally, a scratching sound lures Rusty onto the garage roof, where he confronts the alien cat. A feisty feline fight with hissing and screeching ensues, then Rusty chases the intruder across the street. Homeward bound as dawn breaks, battle-weary Rusty finishes his kibble and crawls into bed as the little girl wakes up, unaware he’s been on the prowl. Realistic illustrations created with acrylic, oil, and colored pencil capture the drama of Rusty’s nighttime adventures. His taffy-and-white fur jumps out against the dark shapes and shadows of the backyard, highlighting his activities. Double-page close-ups and unusual perspectives invite a cat’s-eye view. A “More About Cats” page reinforces the textual and visual focus on feline senses.

Intriguing peek into the secret life of cats. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9883303-6-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Web of Life

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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