Elegantly designed for young fans of ancient Egypt, this sweet ghost story of a pet’s love for its owner transcends time.

MUMMY CAT

“Deep within this maze of stone, / a creature wakes up, all alone.”

On this evening in Egypt, a cat that has been mummified and placed inside a pyramid awakens “for the first time in a hundred years.” Will he find what he is looking for? Ewert has created a compelling story that masterfully melds introductory information about the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification, its royalty, the people’s reverence of cats, and a look at hieroglyphics. As the cat explores the tomb, he fondly remembers his owner, Hatshepsut, and all they did together. Brown expertly employs a mix of media to create illustrations in a palette of soft browns with pops of blue, yellow, and orange hues. Paintings on the pyramid’s walls depict not only the cat and the queen’s relationship, but also the perils of being an Egyptian ruler. The mummy cat wanders, lonely. “This cold, golden coffin—is this all he gets? / Where is the girl he can never forget?” Readers will smile as the page turn reveals the mummy queen beginning to emerge from her sarcophagus. For those who would like to learn more, the backmatter includes succinct yet helpful notes on “Mummies, Cats, Queens, and Hieroglyphs.” A seek-and-find feature with sets of hieroglyphs invites further investigation as well.

Elegantly designed for young fans of ancient Egypt, this sweet ghost story of a pet’s love for its owner transcends time. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-34082-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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