Charming and as sweet as a tea cake.

TEA WITH OLIVER

Oliver (a white cat with orange spots) wishes for a friend he can share a pot of tea with.

He loves tea—as does Philbert, a mouse who lives right in the unknowing Oliver’s house, even though Philbert tries to get Oliver’s attention all the time. Oliver’s solemn moon face, wide-set dot eyes, and pert mouth convey both vulnerability and formality, while Philbert’s miniature body and outsized efforts to communicate with his oblivious roomie make readers’ hearts ache. So many unnoticed overtures, missed gestures, and misconstrued tries at friendship! Philbert writes letters, launches paper airplanes, and even shouts from under the couch, but he never manages to connect with Oliver. An airy palette lightens things up, with gauzy grays, pinks, and peaches. White space, roomy watercolor illustrations, and clear, confident black linework allow readers to focus on these unlikely friends, their feelings, and the amusing mishaps that keep them apart. Oliver mistakes the ping of a paper plane for a needling flea, and he accidentally sweeps an introductory note back under the sofa while singing the “lonesome apartment bluuues….” The darling rhyming of “tea” and “me” recurs throughout, delivered in turns by both Oliver and Philbert, enacting a conversation between the two before they even meet—as they inevitably, finally do.

Charming and as sweet as a tea cake. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-242948-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 30

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more