BRAVE MARTHA

Apple turns from the exploits of Nancy Shaw’s exuberant sheep (Sheep Take a Hike, 1994, etc.) to a quieter bedtime tale about a young girl facing her fears in the dark. Martha is very brave each night at bedtime when her cat Sophie goes first down the hall and checks “all the creepy places,” including under the bed. The nightly ritual is disrupted one evening when company comes, and they bring their dog. When Martha can’t find Sophie at bedtime, she’s startled by her coonskin cap and by Owl, a wild-thing stuffed animal. Forced to confront her fears on her own, Martha is greatly relieved when the “scritcha, scritcha, scritch” she hears proves to be Sophie, hiding in the dresser drawer. The comfortable pencil and watercolor drawings, making deliberate or accidental homage to Sendak’s Really Rosie, lend a nostalgic flavor to this age-old bedtime dilemma. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-59422-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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HOW MANY CANDLES?

PLB 0-688-16259-2 Time is relative, as Griffith’s pleasingly droll story makes clear, especially when a cat, a dog, a turtle, and a couple gnats get together to compare longevity. The dog, Alex, has made a cake for his friend, Robbie, a boy turning ten who never appears in these pages. A cat notes that Robbie’s years equal about 70 of hers, while a turtle figures that the same number equals about 8 of his years, because he can live to be 100. Two gnats buzz in to check on the doings, and they can’t even begin to comprehend the very notion of ten years—“ ‘Well, they’re gnats,’ said the cat. ‘Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat.’ “ As Alex tries to determine how many candles are needed for each new configuration, the cat sniffs the cake: “This seems to be made of dog biscuits,” and the higher mathematics are put on the back burner while some sheer tomfoolery comes to the fore. This is a delightful exploration of dry humor and number-juggling, accompanied by some elegantly funny artwork. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16258-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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WHERE IS THAT CAT?

PLB 0-7868-2399-2 Miss Perkins goes out in the snow to get her mail and brings back a stray cat. Naming it Fitz, because that is the sound it made when it sneezed, Miss Perkins tries not to get too attached to the stray, and runs an ad that reads: “Wanted: Good home for fluffy cat named Fitz.” Fitz, however, does not want to be adopted by anyone other than Miss Perkins, so he mysteriously disappears whenever someone answers the ad. Fitz finds his way into Miss Perkins’s heart by jumping up on her lap and licking the tip of her nose, sleeping at the foot of her bed to keep her feet warm, and finally chasing a mouse out of her home. With that final act, Miss Perkins finds Fitz to be a perfectly remarkable cat. Bright and finely detailed illustrations show clearly why the cat would not leave; the elderly woman’s home is as snug as they come in the detailed illustrations. Children will love this simple story of a love match forged by destiny, and aided by the occasional well-timed disappearance. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0457-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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