Captures the dual nature of the feline friend, often “bad” but always your buddy.


Every sailor needs a cat—but what to do with seven bad ones?!

“Today I put on / my boots and my coat, / and seven bad cats / jumped into my boat.” One eats from the little sailor’s lobster pots, and two others snooze on the oars. Three pester crabs while hanging from the gunwale, and four keep stealing the poor sailor’s gloves. Five claw the sails to ribbons, and when the sea gets rough, six get sick in a bucket. When the boat capsizes, throwing everyone into the sea, readers learn this sailor can’t swim! “Fourteen small paws / lifted me in their grip, / and seven good cats / rescued me to my ship!” And counting back down from there, those bad cats prove themselves pretty perfect pussycat pals. Bonneau’s debut as author/illustrator is a rhymed counting tale starring a rosy-cheeked white sailor of indeterminate gender in a yellow slicker and their seven cats colored red, orange, yellow, white, black, blue, and purple. The rhymed couplets roll like the waves, and the watercolor-and-ink illustrations, mostly full-bleed, double-page spreads, are pale, simple, and charming. The kitties’ curves as they leap and pounce (and play with everything) and the young sailor’s emotions are deftly displayed in just a few lines.

Captures the dual nature of the feline friend, often “bad” but always your buddy. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5710-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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