PURRFECTLY PURRFECT

Anyone fond of cats and puns will be amewsed by this visit to The Acatemy, pet project of Purrfessor F. Catus of the University of Catifornia, where a purrfect graduation record stands in danger of being spoiled by Dudley, a small kitten who doggedly refuses to stay home. Along with looks at the purriculum (“Cats In History”—e.g., Catherine the Great, Catilla the Hun) and the art mewseum, readers get essays from each of the 11 (12, counting Dudley) students on their summer vacations and career plans, plus a multiple choice final in Eticat: “You are thirsty. Where is the last place you should go for water? A) a bowl of flowers, B) the toilet, C) whatever you find soaking in the sink, D) your water bowl.” With plenty of vigorous, scrawly sketches, Lewin (Chubbo’s Pool, 1996, etc.) depicts the student body purrsuing their educations, then gathering for graduation—even Dudley, who gets a purrfect “0” in every class, and is last seen clutching his diploma in slightly cross-eyed triumph. A cheery bit of fluff from a pair of children’s-book veterans. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17299-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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