Tongue-twister–y fun celebrating the joys of being owned by a cat.


What a splendid cat(icus) is Atticus.

A beige-skinned kid with dark hair plays a cardboard drum to wake the sleepy feline: “Rat-a-tat-tat-ticus.” After a stretch and a hunch, Atticus “yawns with his whole head.” As the day continues, the text unfolds in a pattern, an abcb-rhyming stanza and then an exclamation that plays with the sounds in Atticus Caticus. The rattle of his food box calls Atticus to the kitchen. “He gobbles his food / without any delay, / then drinks from my glass / while I’m looking away. Atticus Caticus, / tummy so fat-ticus!” Then it’s time for lying in a sunbeam, when he becomes “Atticus Caticus, / flat-a-tat-tat-ticus.” Child and Atticus chat with a bird and play with a string, and Atticus stages a toe ambush. At the end of the day, “I get in the tub and / he comes to get clean. / He licks and he licks— / he’s a licking machine. / Atticus Caticus / bathes on a bath mat-ticus.” Then it’s to bed, where Atticus sleeps on his kid’s head (after some blanket kneading). Kramer’s energetic illustrations have the look of scribbly colored pencil over block-printed background patterns. Their bright and silly expressiveness is an excellent match for Maizes’ rollicking text, which should make for many enjoyable read-alouds.

Tongue-twister–y fun celebrating the joys of being owned by a cat. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0840-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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