Just as prickly as its heroine, this book requires an audience ready for its sobering back story.

SOME CAT!

Violet the cat finds it hard to make friends with her new owners’ two dogs until they show their loyalty despite her unfriendliness.

Casanova’s energetic text begins with a brief mention of Violet’s previous home, where there was “too little food and too much shouting.” Presumably that’s why she hisses and spits at the people who stop by her cage at the shelter. Most walk away, but one couple decides to take her home. Once there she terrorizes George and Zippity, heroes of Some Dog! (2007). Things change after a trio of stray dogs finds her alone in the yard. Once rescued, Violet undergoes a serious attitude adjustment. From the cover that shows a wide-eyed, anxious-looking cat to the implication that Violet’s earlier experiences shaped her personality to the fairly scary attack by the stray dogs, this is not a typically perky pet-adoption tale. Hoyt’s illustrations, which appear to combine watercolor and pencil, set the story in and around a house by a lake and offer a mostly realistic look at the action. The cozy setting and some visual humor lighten the mood, as does Casanova’s use of nonsense words to convey the barking and meowing of the various animals.

Just as prickly as its heroine, this book requires an audience ready for its sobering back story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-37123-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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