An agreeable series starter for kitten fans.


From the Kitten Kingdom series , Vol. 1

Will Princess Tabby be brave enough to save Mewtopia?

While out snitching candy as their nanny snoozes, Princess Tabby and her brothers, Felix and Leo, overhear their parents practicing for the Golden Scroll Ceremony, which will take place that evening. At the ceremony, the laws spoken by the holder of the scroll in the last rays of daylight become the laws of the country for real. (Since the first law is that the king, who reads the scroll, is the ruler, one wonders what authority the king has wielded prior to the ceremony.) Wishing to look at the real scroll, the trio heads down to the treasury and encounters a cloaked and hooded messenger who has come to get the scroll for polishing. There’s something weird about the messenger, but they let him have it but then decide they should visit the goldsmith’s shop to make sure they did the right thing. They didn’t! The messenger may just be the legendarily awful rat King Gorgonzola of Rottingham. The three little kittens team up with the goldsmith’s daughter, Clawdia, to pursue the thief and retrieve the scroll, but will Princess Tabby be brave enough on her first foray out into the world without an armed guard to complete the task and save the kingdom? Bell’s first in a new series is a decent start. The puns run thick, but young readers new to chapters will enjoy them and even recognize themselves in Tabby’s realistic self-doubt. The uncredited black-and-white cartoon illustrations add little. Sequel Tabby and the Pup Prince publishes simultaneously.

An agreeable series starter for kitten fans. (Fantasy. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-29234-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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