Plenty of visual cues, lots of repetition and a clear story arc make this a perfect choice for beginning readers—and parents...

HAPPY CAT

From the I Like To Read series

This cheery entry in the I Like to Read series successfully tells a simple tale and creates a sense of community using just 20 unique words.

Short, declarative sentences describe the action. Cat enters a house, climbs up three floors and finds a cozy room just big enough to make a perfect home. Colorful, cartoon-style illustrations help fill in the details. The eponymous hero is a round, yellow cat with a shy smile who starts out shivering on a cold and snowy sidewalk. Jumping into an open window, he lands in a snug cellar, where he meets a friendly rat who sends him up the stairs. The animals who live in the upper stories welcome Cat and offer gifts that reflect their interests. When “Cat [meets] Dog,” who sits in a cozy armchair surrounded by bookshelves, Cat leaves with a book tucked under his arm. Rabbit, an enthusiastic gardener, gives him a small potted plant, Bird offers a painting, and Elephant takes time out from playing the piano to provide a hot cup of tea. By the end, “Cat [is] happy,” and readers will be too.

Plenty of visual cues, lots of repetition and a clear story arc make this a perfect choice for beginning readers—and parents pressed for time will likely be happy to find such a short, sweet read-aloud. (Early reader.4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2659-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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