Infused with magical realism and some quirky capers but may struggle to find an appropriate audience.



A YA novel about a pet cat with magical powers.

Janson (Mal Practice, 2013) tells the tale of a cat whose instincts and mysterious powers create both havoc and harmony for the family with whom he lives. It all begins with Mildred, who’s surprised to be scratched by Onyx, her otherwise loving cat. The scratch is bad enough to warrant a visit to the hospital, where they are fortuitously able to diagnose her cancer and treat her before the disease can spread. Onyx goes off to live with Mildred’s niece Sally and her grandnieces Bridgette and Renee, who are especially taken with the black cat. Onyx spends a lot of time staring through neighbor Gladys’ window and then, out of the blue, he scratches the poor woman. Once again, a trip to the hospital is in order, and once again, it’s just in the nick of time to save Gladys from cancer. The otherwise friendly cat goes on to scratch unsuspecting folks, along the way solving problems both mental and physical. It’s clear that, more than his hapless owners, the cat seems incredibly aware of what’s going on in the world around him; in his own way, he protects them and their friends and helps make the world a little better. There’s no clear protagonist in this narrative that, despite some uneven pacing, moves along fairly quickly. Described as a YA novel, the episodic story feels more like a middle-grade book, with its 12- and 13-year-old characters often referred to as “young ladies.” However, some strong language—and the fact that about half the book focuses on the lives and interactions of the girls’ parents—means this book doesn’t fit neatly into any genre. At times, 12-year-old Renee acts younger, as when she exclaims, “We had to give them our fingerprints, Dad!” to which her father quips about making sure she gets them back.

Infused with magical realism and some quirky capers but may struggle to find an appropriate audience.

Pub Date: July 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0578142494

Page Count: 200

Publisher: JM Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

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An unabashed love letter from mother.


From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.


Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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