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PUSSNINKS

A RATHER EXTRAORDINARY CAT

Pussninks’ hijinks are enjoyable but undermined by the odd structure and strangely constructed illustrations.

A three-legged cat shows he’s even more capable of mischief than the other pets in his house in this good-humored, mostly rhyming debut from Lindsay, with illustrations by picture-book veteran Nacaytuna (Note Cards for Everyone from Tiny Hands, 2018, etc.).

With an image that shows the face of the orange-and-white tabby cat, the opening poem advises readers that they may find Pussninks to be different but encourages them to look through his eyes. Pussninks has only three legs, though the angle of the illustration de-emphasizes this. Throughout, Pussninks shows his energy and cleverness. He greets the postman, steals the dog’s food, snatches Grandad’s fish from the table, etc. Illustrations accompany each rhyming stanza; additional short, nonrhyming sentences and illustrations add extra details to the scenes but break up the rhythm of the text. Briticisms (the fellow cat and mouse are “quite cross”; Pussninks is described as “no different to any other cat”) will introduce young Americans to new phrasings. Newly independent readers may struggle with challenging vocabulary words (“impressed,” “admiration”) in the shorter sentences, which interrupt the poetry rather than compliment it. Nacaytuna’s pencil illustrations of the cat are lovely, but the flat digital backgrounds give a jarring contrast to the soft-textured fur. Finally, the subtle representation of Pussninks’ difference, which doesn’t hold him back one whit, is a welcome message. A photograph is included of the real cat that Pussninks is based on.

Pussninks’ hijinks are enjoyable but undermined by the odd structure and strangely constructed illustrations.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5434-8921-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: XlibrisUK

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2018

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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