A gentle story that children will return to time and time again

LITTLE NIGHT CAT

A boy’s generosity toward animals in need reaps great rewards.

In this beautiful book by German author/illustrator Danowski, a little white boy named Tony wakes up surrounded by his stuffed animals, eagerly anticipating a party to benefit the local animal shelter. He makes the bold decision to donate his beloved stuffed animals for the raffle. At the shelter, he meets a special cat named Valentine and hums a tune to him called “Little Night Cat” (music for the sweet, melancholy song composed by the author is included at the end of the book). A wallpaperlike design in reds and blues ushers readers from the endpapers into the cozy corners of Tony’s home, drawing them into the detailed setting. The illustrations, rendered in pen and ink, watercolor, and gouache, have soft, fuzzy edges and rounded corners that amplify the fuzziness of the real and stuffed animals. Occasional wordless double-page spreads invite readers to linger on the pages to examine the details of Tony’s home: framed pictures of animals on the walls, his mother’s cello in an open case, cat-patterned fabric hanging as his curtains. Children will empathize with Tony’s anxieties, disappointments, and ultimate happiness as he lives with the consequences of his decision, with the guidance of understanding, caring adults.

A gentle story that children will return to time and time again . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4266-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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