HOT CHIPS, MAD FISH & OTHER TALES

A simple but engaging and charming work.

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A collection of animal stories for beginning readers.

Marasciulo’s collection of five illustrated stories is designed for very beginning readers, with a comic book–like illustration style that straddles the gap between picture book and graphic novel. The opening story, “This Is Pat,” introduces readers to the book’s sole human character, a White man with long hair who wears torn blue pants and a matching vest. Pat has an affinity for animals, who arrange themselves in a stack on his head over the course of the story. In “Pat Had a Ship,” an unfortunate sailing adventure gives Pat an opportunity to connect with more animals, this time on a floating log. In “Bud,” about a dog who is drawn to mud, Pat tries to keep his pal clean. “Zig and Zag” follows a pair of bugs Pat tries to keep in a box. Pat is absent from the book’s final story, “The Tunnel,” in which a group of bugs run away from a tick only to find that he isn’t as scary as they had believed. The book, which rarely has more than a dozen words to a page, uses simple syntax and vocabulary (“Then Frog got on the log”), keeping the text within reach of the earliest of readers. This occasionally leads to awkward verb use (“Bud did hop in the mud”), but it never interferes with comprehension, and each story is a fully realized narrative despite its brevity and limited word choice. Changochamango’s colorful cartoonish illustrations—sometimes a single frame to a page, occasionally three or more—do an excellent job of capturing the playful essence of Pat and his companions and clearly depict the actions described in the text, another useful tool for readers who need help deciphering the words. Readers who have exhausted the Elephant and Piggie oeuvre may find the book an enjoyable alternative, though the extremely simple text may limit the rereading potential.

A simple but engaging and charming work.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 9798218084943

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Bowker Identifier Services

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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