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

PUSSNINKS

A RATHER EXTRAORDINARY CAT

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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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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