The glib ending notwithstanding, Mary's humorous tactics make her one of the more appealing barnyard brats around.

SCARY MARY

Animals fly the coop when Scary Mary ruffles her feathers.

Though small in stature, this diva proves she is the bossiest chicken around. She squawks with a vengeance, hoards sunflower seeds and padlocks the gate. Her makeshift signs pull no punches (“Go Away”; “Keep Out”). Though her neighbors invite her to join them, Mary has no interest in playing nice. Her feather-flapping tantrums succeed in preserving her solitude—but at a cost. Her futile attempts at self-entertainment (checkers is not a solitary game) leave her contrite, and she pursues rapprochement with her neighbors. Dialogue bubbles interspersed with descriptive phrases carry the story along in jolly style, though the playful tone turns sour with a final didactic statement: “Because it was much more fun to do things … / together!” Bowles' dynamic portrayal of this fowl with a temper makes Mary an engaging queen of the barn. Splashes of golden feathers dance with robust red accents. Scraggly chicken-scratches define each defiant cluck. Mary throws herself into each fit with abandon (complete with wattle-shaking screams) and then looks for a reaction. When the gang disappears, Mary throws her beak between her legs in search of an audience.

The glib ending notwithstanding, Mary's humorous tactics make her one of the more appealing barnyard brats around. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58925-110-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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