Not Jennings’ best, but worth it for cat fans.

HISSY FITZ

Can’t a kitty catch a break for a nap? Not in the Fitz house.

Hissy is a simple cat. He wants his food, he wants clean water, and he wants some peace and quiet for a nap. Georgie, his 8-year-old human girl, is too loving; she often elicits a hiss for waking Hissy from his important naps. Her father is a carpenter, so he earns hisses for making too much noise. But the real problem is Zeb, Georgie’s untamed 3-year-old brother. Zeb is constantly noisy and constantly chasing Hissy. Zeb’s twin, Abe, is perfectly tamed and probably receives the fewest hisses. Sometimes Hissy can catch a quick snooze at his friend Igloo’s house, but only if the window or door is left open. Hissy concludes that wherever you find a human, you find noise. He escapes into the night for a nap, but cats are nocturnal, and he always has trouble sleeping at night. Igloo organizes a soccer match to tire him out; maybe if he snuggles with Georgie, Hissy will finally get some shut-eye…but it’s only a few hours until dawn….Jennings, author of the popular Guinea Dog series, tackles the feline mind with fair results. Narrator Hissy is a hard cat to like, and his annoyance with his humans can backfire. The soccer match in an otherwise realistic tale feels a bit out of place, but cat lovers will see their feline friends in Hissy (especially if those felines can be a bit hissy at times).

Not Jennings’ best, but worth it for cat fans. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60684-596-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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