BELLING THE TIGER

Decked out in handsome new illustrations, this 1962 Newbery Honor–winner (originally illustrated by Beni Montresor) features twin mice who discover that they aren’t as powerless as they thought. Dispatched to bell the resident cat by fierce lead mouse Portman, Bob and Ozzie screw their courage to the sticking place, steal a collar from the pet store, then flee aboard a departing ship to escape feline pursuit. The first creature they encounter upon disembarking is a sleeping cat of monstrous size—a tiger, who, rather than eating them, admires the collar they intrepidly slip onto its tail, shows them their effect on a passing elephant, then sees them back to the ship. This experience gives them the moxie to face Portman down, on their return home. Both Stolz’s rich language and her central theme have a timeless freshness, and Pratt’s impasto scenes of dot-eyed, square-nosed mice scampering through a very large world capture the tale’s danger, comedy, and lightly satiric touches expertly. Bob, Ozzie, and the cat are renamed; the otherwise unaltered text is quite a bit longer than usual for its new format, but today’s readers will be as delighted by it as their grandparents were. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7624-1889-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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