Lucky kitten, lucky readers: a sweet, special Halloween story.

THE LITTLE KITTEN

From the My Little Animal Friend series

Cats and loving homes make for a perfect fall or anytime story.

On an autumn morning, cat-suited Ollie goes outside to play with her cat, Pumpkin. Just as she’s about to jump into a pile of leaves, the wind blows them everywhere. Hiding underneath is a small, shivering kitten, whom Ollie picks up. She, Pumpkin, and the newcomer play, then rest. When the kitten wants to resume frolicking, Ollie runs into the woods with him, forgetting sleeping Pumpkin. Posters on trees tell Ollie that someone’s lost the kitten. Suddenly, another gust of wind reveals a hidden path that leads the little kitten safely home. Tearfully, Ollie now remembers Pumpkin but is herself lost. All ends extremely well, however, and a marvelous surprise conclusion results in happiness for all on this very special night that only sharp-eyed observers might have seen coming—and an unexpected gift the next morning! The simplest of premises brings great rewards in this sweet, heartwarming charmer, narrated with economic, beautiful language. Matching the lovely story is simple, pleasing art, presented in a palette of shades of gray and orange, black, and white. Adding magic to the simple scenes are flashes of shiny orange foil in some illustrations and on the dust jacket. Cutouts on a few pages open up clever new perspectives on following pages. Ollie presents White.

Lucky kitten, lucky readers: a sweet, special Halloween story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6696-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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