A cursory if cheery guide.


The original grumpy cat imparts comics-making advice.

Garfield, the perpetually snarky, Monday-hating marmalade cat, explains the basics of drawing a strip to young readers. In four chapters, he presents a rudimentary overview of the process, including tips on main characters, expression, plot development, punchlines, building settings, and lettering. While the text is upbeat, Garfield’s trademark irreverence is showcased through reprinted comic strips and sidebar illustrations; when explaining essential setting details, king-of-the-catnap Garfield wisecracks that “chairs [and] beds” are “essential details.” Finnegan’s guide is best suited for the earliest beginner, as it offers such obvious instructions as, “the first thing you need is a pencil to draw with”; those looking for more comprehensive information may be audibly groaning at the lack of depth. For burgeoning artists hoping to learn to draw the lovably irascible feline, expect potential upset when they discover the only instructions show how to draw his head—not his entire body—and with five brief steps, it is superficial at best (though still more detailed than the instructions for Odie). Included is a five-term glossary, a section for further information (which, curiously, offers Garfield’s Twitter account as a place of interest), and an index. Cavils aside, Garfield’s iconic brand of humor is effectively captured, which may satisfy Davis’ devotees if not those looking to get a foothold in creating art.

A cursory if cheery guide. (index) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7468-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.


From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text.


Wild animals by the score pose in plain sight or hide beneath die-cut flaps in 12 natural habitats around the world.

Designed as a companion for Jenny Broom’s city tour Walk This World, illustrated by Lotta Nieminen (2013), Brewster’s gallery of broad land- and seascapes is free of human figures but teems with distinctive flora and fauna. His figures are occasionally stylized, but he depicts them with reasonable accuracy and shows them in natural, though seldom active poses. Baker’s narrative is likewise a bit stodgy. She gives each locale a rhyming overview, muffing the final one slightly: “The shifting sands of the Australian desert / shimmer in the searing heat / and hidden far beneath the dunes / nocturnal creatures safely sleep.” In addition, she offers perfunctory observations about one to four animals (or, rarely, plants) that are revealed by peeling up the small rectangular flaps on each free page: “The rare Asian arowana or ‘dragon fish’ swims in the deep pools”; “The ibis uses its long curved bill to search for food”; etc. A map at the end retraces the overall route and provides a general sense of each scene’s location. Even though some creatures are very small or too dimly lit to make out, and many others are unidentified, at least the art will give animal lovers plenty to pore over.

A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78370-541-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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