There’s not much story here, but it’s a visually dynamic tribute to the species.

ALL ABOUT CATS

Thirteen fun-loving felines fill the day while their human is gone with all the activities an imaginative pet owner might hope for.

A houseful of unnamed cats takes advantage of their time away from their owner’s gaze to do everything from bathtub diving to cooking to knitting and modeling the latest in yarn apparel. It’s an entire book of what amounts to (admittedly) adorable cat poses and cat situations featuring the roundest, fluffiest varieties of them in many colors and textures. The text, then, ends up feeling perfunctory (“Snack time!”) when it’s not completely unnecessary—the power of the artwork to communicate is at times stunning. A two-page spread showing a close-up of a multicolored cat’s pleased face is brilliantly painted, as are scenes featuring all the cats together playing music or putting together an art exhibit. Though they all seem to come from a planet where every kitten grows up to be a cat with a giant belly and kind eyes, author/illustrator Filipina makes each of the 13 visually distinctive even if it seems like a missed opportunity not to have also given them more individualized personalities. There are many worse ways to spend time than gazing agog at the way the artist has turned such a routine idea for a picture book into a tour de force of feline-themed eye candy.

There’s not much story here, but it’s a visually dynamic tribute to the species. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84643-934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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