RECTANGLE TIME

A sweet story about falling in love with reading.

Told from the point of view of the pet cat, this story shows a reading family and the incremental ways in which a child learns to love books.

A toddler-age boy and his father, who both have beige skin and brown hair, pick out a book every night to read before bed, and the cat thrills to know it’s “Rectangle Time.” That means a “furry nuzzle” against the corners of the book as the father reads The Snowy Day aloud to his child. Time passes with the page turns, marked in the narrative by the cat’s surprise to see the boy, now a bit older, reading an Encyclopedia Brown book on his own and, after that, the even older lad reading rectangles that are “awfully small” (squinting readers will see it’s The Hobbit). The cat’s self-centered but affectionate voice is entertaining as he remarks that the boy is so engaged in reading that he momentarily dismisses his pet. The story, with its warmly colored watercolor illustrations and expressive feline, feels like a primer for adults on how to get their kids to fall in love with books: The house is filled with them; the (apparently single) dad models reading; and he regularly read aloud to the boy before his son could do so himself. (The author, currently the New York Times Book Review editor, co-authored an actual primer, How To Raise a Reader, 2019, with María Russo, that outlet’s former children’s-books editor.) It’s not a story with a climax or falling action, but the resolution—in the end, the cat merely decides that sleeping on the boy’s face will do—will still satisfy readers, especially book and cat lovers everywhere. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A sweet story about falling in love with reading. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11511-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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