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

READ REVIEW

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 reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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