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TAG AND THE MAGIC SQUEAKER

An entertaining trickster tale brought to life by intriguing artwork in an unusual medium.

A mouse outwits a dog and cat and snags a tasty treat.

House dog Tag loves his well-worn “squeaker ball,” a tennis-ball noisemaker with a chewed-out hole in it. He tosses, dribbles, rolls, and squeaks it tirelessly and mourns dramatically when it rolls under the couch. The cat, meanwhile, smirks and bids the plaything “good riddance!” When a mouse slips inside the ball (this is not shown in the artwork, so children must use their inferencing skills) unbeknownst to the other animals, Tag becomes convinced that the squeaker can talk. The mouse convinces Tag to toss him (still concealed inside the toy) onto the kitchen counter and—without blowing his disguise—rewards both the dog and himself with a snack. The cat is suspicious (“I smell a rat”), but the mouse cleverly manages to escape. This underdog (undermouse?) story about a diminutive hero who gets his superiors to literally play ball with his schemes will resonate with young children, who must answer to the grown-ups in their lives. The three-dimensional scrap-art illustrations, rendered using “dug relics” (metal fragments) from the 1800s, capture the characters’ personalities and nuances of body language to a remarkable degree. The engaging backmatter includes facts and discussion prompts related to the metal art that may inspire children to create their own found-object sculptures.

An entertaining trickster tale brought to life by intriguing artwork in an unusual medium. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68446-426-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

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

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. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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ADDIE ANT GOES ON AN ADVENTURE

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade.

An ant explores her world.

Addie Ant’s ready for adventure. Despite some trepidation about leaving the Tomato Bed, where she lives with her aunt, she plucks up her courage and ventures forth across the garden to the far side of the shed. On her journey, she meets her pal Lewis Ladybug, who greets her warmly, points the way, and offers sage advice. When Addie arrives at her destination, she’s welcomed by lovely Beatrix Butterfly and enjoys an “ant-tastic” helping of watermelon. Beatrix also provides Addie with take-home treats and a map for the “Cricket Express,” which will take her straight home. Arriving at the terminal, Addie’s delighted to meet another friend, Cleo Cricket, whose carriage service returns Addie home in “two hops.” After eating a warm tomato soup dinner, Addie falls asleep and dreams of future exploits. Adorable though not terribly original, this story brims with sensuous pleasures, both textual and visual. Kids who declare that they dislike fruits or veggies may find their mouths watering at the mentions and sights of luscious tomatoes, peas, beans, watermelons, berries, and other foodstuffs; insect-averse readers may likewise think differently after encountering these convivial, wide-eyed characters. And those flowers and herbs everywhere! The highlights are the colors that burst from the pages. Addie’s an endearing, empowering character who reassures children they’ll be able to take those first independent steps successfully.

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade. (author’s note about ants) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781797228914

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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