Please, let there be more adventures of Mac and Cheese, the Felix and Oscar of the early-reader world.

READ REVIEW

MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERFECT PLAN

From the Mac and Cheese series

In this offering for emerging readers, Mac and Cheese, two cat friends, prove that opposites attract, even in the feline world.

Cheese, a grumpy marmalade tabby, would rather sleep on his trashcan than join Mac for a day at the sea. The day is hot, the bus will be by soon and the only thing standing between the cats and the beach is a little preparation. Despite Mac’s encouraging song (or perhaps because of it), Cheese does not want to go. When Mac agrees to stop singing, Cheese relents, sort of. Insisting a trip to the beach includes packing just about everything (food, clothing, toys, books, a boat), Cheese slows the process until the bus heads down the road and the friends are left behind. Though Mac’s little song (“Please, Cheese, please, / Come to the sea, / Come to the sea, Cheese, / Please with me”) does not trip easily off the tongue, the rest of the text is rhythmic, at times pleasantly reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, making it easy to read. Humorous watercolor illustrations, including full- and double-page spreads and such little details as allowing the whiskers and eyebrows to reflect feline feelings make this one new reader that will be eagerly read over and over.

Please, let there be more adventures of Mac and Cheese, the Felix and Oscar of the early-reader world. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-117082-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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