An unhurried pace and graphically arresting scenes build suspense and wonderment in equal measure, providing space for...

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THE FISH AND THE CAT

A wordless chase: in this 92-page visual narrative, a somewhat bemused cat pursues a domestic fish.

It all begins in a house. The compositions are rendered in black and gray except for the crimson fish—and later, strategically placed matching birds. The feline approaches the fishbowl and stirs the water, swirling it faster and faster. Its smile is impossible to decipher: threatening or playful? What appeared to be small fish fins now become wings; the swimmer ascends and soars through the window. The hunt begins over tiled rooftops, past diaphanous laundry, and into a leafy, stylized forest—where a red bird is given a scare until the pursuer realizes the mistake. Following the fish to the moon, the cat traverses stars like steppingstones—a captivating image. The penultimate setting is a tunnel through which the fish escapes, flying into the sea. Tentatively pawing the water, the hunter is left to stare into the sunset—and readers to interpret its feelings. Though Dubuc has created many books since, this 2007 title was her first. Originally entitled La mer and only now seeing publication in the United States, it won Quebec’s 2008 Prix Lux/Grafika award for illustration. Dubuc’s designs range from a whimsical wallpaper pattern that suggests paw prints to tiny lines on a gray background that create a pulsing force field around the stars.

An unhurried pace and graphically arresting scenes build suspense and wonderment in equal measure, providing space for reflection and tantalizing questions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61689-505-1

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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