Clever and quirky, cat lovers will approve and understand, though others may be somewhat mystified.


This portrait of a pampered pet uses sly humor and illustrations with an old-fashioned feel to reveal a marmalade cat’s essential feline nature.

Hamweenie, the titular hero of this (not quite) epic adventure, yearns for glory. Pictured in a top hat and cloak, this debonair tomcat imagines himself a magician, the star of a parade (in person and as a large balloon) and a red-carpet habitué. He chafes against the limitations inherent to his current situation, the beloved and cosseted pet of a pony-tailed, freckle-faced little girl, and presents himself as horribly misunderstood and mistreated. Bowman’s illustrations, executed in pen and ink and watercolor, are reminiscent of Edward Gorey, with round-faced, pointy-limbed creatures and decidedly odd touches. They also contradict almost every detail of her brief, deadpan text. While being forced to ride in a baby carriage or take a bath might indeed be considered a fate worse than death from a cat’s point of view, Hamweenie is also shown playing a video game, reclining and reading a magazine while his owner fans him assiduously, and snubbing an extensive, if not especially appealing, feast. While obviously incorporating fantastic elements, Bowman’s words and pictures nonetheless capture perfectly typical feline behavior and the fawning affection felt by many cat owners.

Clever and quirky, cat lovers will approve and understand, though others may be somewhat mystified. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25688-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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