A fun experiment but not an entirely successful one.

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

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 40

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more