CELEBRITY CAT

When all the city cats gather for Cats’ Visiting Night at the Art Gallery, they are dismayed to see that so few paintings include felines. So Felissima Cat takes paintbrush in paw and adds them to six masterpieces in the art museums of London, Madrid, New York and Paris. For example, the reason the Mona Lisa is smiling is because she’s holding a cat (now we know). The last spread reproduces the paintings and identifies the artists and the museums where they hang. As art appreciation, the device is original and the painting images accurate, but the illustrations of the cats are eerie. They are not cute, furry kitties, but appear somewhat menacing with sinister eyes that are more human than feline. The stylized illustrations in pencil, oil pastels and acrylics add unusual details and cleverly position the added cats into the artwork. Akin to Hooper’s Dogs’ Night, illustrated by Mark Burgess (2000), featuring four masterpieces in the National Gallery in London. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-84507-290-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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