Charming, expressive and surprising.

READ REVIEW

A CASTLE FULL OF CATS

Wouldn’t anyone be happy with a castle full of cats?

"Once there was a queen / who kept a castle full of cats. / She loved the pretty ones and the plain ones, / the sweet ones and the brats." She pampers them with abandon; everyone has fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cats are confident in her love, but they want to win the king's, too. "They tried their best to please him / in oh-so-clever ways, / and left him charming little gifts / to brighten up his days." (These gifts include a mouse in his shoe). They warm his chair in the morning and try to satisfy his love of music and art (with serenades at the piano and claw paintings on the walls). When he becomes upset, the queen just tells him they are only being cats. When he's had enough, he storms off and returns with his idea of the perfect pet: a drooling bull mastiff! Could this be the end of kitty cat fun and games? Not quite...the cats love the present he's brought them. Sanderson's 18th-century king and queen and their adoring brood of pussycats come to life in each detailed, double-page spread watercolor. The palatial rooms and rococo decor will entrance readers, and the purring masses of cats offer plenty of humor for repeat readings

Charming, expressive and surprising. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-449-81307-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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