A fun experiment but not an entirely successful one.

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CATS ARE A LIQUID

A group of precocious experimenters demonstrates a tongue-in-cheek science hypothesis that has been popularized on the internet.

Very brief rhyming text fancifully describes the actions of a number of smiling, stylized cats “Cats fill…spill…tip…drip…slop [and] plop.” In sum, “cats are a liquid except when they’re not.” This appears twice as a refrain and then shifts to “A cat’s not a liquid except when it is.” Cartoony illustrations, created in Adobe Photoshop, feature a host of children in white lab coats busily measuring, chasing, cuddling, cleaning up after, and otherwise interacting with a plethora of cats and kittens. Diversity is implied via varied skin tones and clothing choices (one girl wears hijab). Limited background details keep the focus on the cute cats; black outlines and a subdued palette give the pictures an amusingly retro feel. Although the author provides a brief explanation and a citation for the paper that helped to inspire this STEM-oriented picture book, the joke (and the science behind it) may be beyond the grasp of much of the intended audience. The childlike feel of the pictures and rhythmic brevity of the text, on the other hand, may turn off older listeners. A foray into weather comparisons (“Cats are clouds in the atmosphere. Evaporate. Precipitate”) only adds to the confusion. An included activity, making “oobleck,” further explores the qualities of liquids and solids.

A fun experiment but not an entirely successful one. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20659-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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