An origin story—and alphabet practice and vocabulary stretcher—for Bad Kitty’s fans.



From the Bad Kitty series

A look back at the Halloween that transformed a brave, daring, and energetic kitty into a scaredy-cat and then into the Bad Kitty readers know.

As with her other adventures, readers are in for several trips through the alphabet. The first lists the cat’s attributes before she became a scaredy-cat. The second lists the things she saw that scared her: Evil Ectoplasm, a Killer Kracken, a Putrid Pirate, a Toxic Tarantula. Each (except for Uncle Murray, who just needs to borrow some candy) is a costumed child with trick-or-treat bag or bucket in hand, though on the first run-through, they look all too real and menacing, sending poor Kitty to cower under the couch. Until, that is, one of them drops the candy. Huge eyes reveal how excited Kitty is at the haul, Apples to Zoo animal crackers, and at that moment, she decides to become a bad Kitty, besting and revealing each costumed child and stealing the candy: she Flattened Frankenstein, Mauled the Mummy, and Nullified the Neanderthal. Bruel’s illustrations, heavy on the blacks, purples, and oranges, do double duty, helping youngsters with the challenging vocabulary, though not all the pictures really show the actions (Harassing the Hag looks like either tickling or scratching, and both Gnawing on the Goblin and Injuring the Invisible Man involve biting).

An origin story—and alphabet practice and vocabulary stretcher—for Bad Kitty’s fans. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59643-978-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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